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Full text of "Omni Magazine (March 1992)"

AND NOW FOR 
SOMETHING 
COMPLETELY 
DIFFERENT j 



■■luiniiuuniiii 



HOW TO BECOME 



TOURIST 



onnrui 



VOL. 14 NO. 6 



MARCH 1992 



EDITOR IN CHIEF & DESIGN DIRECTOR: BOB GUCCIONE 

PRESIDENT & C.O.O.: KATHY KEETON 

EDITOR: KEITH FERRELL 
GRAPHICS DIRECTOR THANK DEVINO 
MANAGING EDITOR CAROLINE DARK 
ART DIRECTOR: DWAYNE FLINCHUM 



DEPARTMENTS 



First Word 

By Carol Bly 

The men's movement 

8 

Earth 

By Billy Allstetter 

Frozen clues 

to the environment's future 

11 

Communications 

Readers' writes 

12 

Artificial Intelligence 

By Steve Ditfea 

Movies by computer 

16 

Wheels 

By Jeffrey Zygmont 

A new type of engine may 

soon be purring 

under your car's hood. 

18 

Books 

By Robert K, J, Killbeffer 

A different 

past, the same future 

22 

Political Science 

By Tom Dworetzky 

Mexico and free trade 

24 

Electronic Universe 

■ By Gregg Keizer 

Mixing education and 

entertainment 

28 

Games 

By Scot Morris 

Bulletin-board humor 




What did dirosajn;. ook like 7 Paleontologists and 

non-scientists alike have their own visions 
of the creatures, including Hajime Sorayama (The 

Image Bank), whose toothy monster 
claims our cover, (Art and photo credits, page 53.) 



Continuum 
41 

Nuclear World Order 

By Car! A. Posey 
The Cold War with the 

Soviets is 
over. So who else has 

the bomb? 

• 46 

Touring the Jungles 

By Tom Dworetzky 

Vacationing in endangered 

areas gives a 
unique perspective on the 

damage we're 
doing to the environment. 

56 
Crumbling Infostructure 

By Gregg Keizer 
Every day, books, movies, 

and computer 
data decay and eventually 

disappear. 

How can we save them? 

64 

Interview 

By Vicki Lindner 

Paleontologist Robert 

Bakker has 

unusual theories about 

dinosaurs. 

68 

Fiction: 

A Little Night Music 

By Lucius Shepard 

Jazz from 

hell: Some out-of- 

this-world 

music has a chilling effect. 



ana Canada by Omni Publi 

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property of Omni Publics 



FIRST WORD 



THE CHARISMATIC MEN'S MOVEMENT: 

Warrior wannabes, unconscious deals, and psychological booty 



By Carol Bly 



Like all deals 

warriors 

make with each 

other, Bly 

says, the real 

are not manli- 
ness, love, 
male bonding, 
and all the glitter 
about honor; 

about booty. 




We need to divide the men's move- 
ment into its four quite-different 
components; the genuine psycho- 
therapeutic turnaround for men 
(for example, work described by 
Murray Scher, Mark Stevens, 
Glenn Good, and Gregg A. Eich- 
enfield in Handbook of Counsel- 
ing and Psychotherapy with Men, 
Sage, 1987); second, the work- 
place networking against wom- 
en- — in which men link arms all 
the way from Elm Street (Yale's se- 
cret-society lane) to Bohemian 
Gardens in a moneyed network 
that keeps the easy sitting-on- 
boards dollars away from women; 
third, the half-conscious psycho- 
logical phenomenon which, al- 
though described as male bond- 
ing at weekend retreats, is really 
back-to-nature yearning; and 
fourth, the charismatic movement, 
which is dangerously made up of 
unconscious material in its lead- 
ers, which arcs across to uncon- 
scious material in its followers. 

A word about the back-to-na- 
ture component first. John 
Naisbitt, in Megatrends, warned 
that as culture got higher and high- 
er in technology, people would 
surge more and more Into high 
touch activity. We saw the first of 
it in the down-home .communes 



where the college-grad women 
baked whole-wheat bread all 
day. In the 1990s there is a 
worse aspect of the high-touch 
yearning: We now know we have 
wrecked much of our planet, and 
we are afraid that corporations 
and large social instruments of 
one kind or another will wreck the 
rest of it, This unconscious griev- 
ing for nature, bent as if is in the 
men's movement mold, is pathet- 
ic, but not likely dangerous, 

It is the fourth aspect of the 
men's movement which is danger- 
ous. This is the excitement 
based on the unconscious feel- 
ings of charismatic leaders. Peo- 
ple adore leaders when they 
can't solve their own psychologi- 
cal problems. It is absolutely nat- 
ural: First you whine, then you 
link with a leader, and then you 
get high on the leader but find 
the high evaporates when he 
leaves the room, The leader has 
his unconscious needs, too. He 
gets high because he can formu- 
late conversations that excite fol- 
lowers. Then they need him. If the 
leader's unconscious feelings are 
a) misogyny "and b) self-satisfac- 
tion (and most charismatic lead- 
ers have a huge steam of misog- 
yny and self-satisfaction in 
them), then those feelings whip 
over to the followers and link up 
with their misogyny and then — 
here is the switch — their feelings 
of self-dissatisfaction. 

It is a deal between one sub- 
conscious and the other. It is, in 
the case of the men's movement, 
an unconscious deal between a 
big-time warrior wannabe and a 
wimpy warrior wannabe. 

I use this warrior language 
with bemusement. It is the lan- 
guage of the pop part of the 
men's movement. It is the lan- 
guage, too, of those men who 
have called me up late at night 
to exclaim, "Don't you under- 
stand?— we don't want to be sol- 



diers! We want to be warriors!" 
Archaic language is part of psy- 
chological coverup — that's why 
Nazis pulled in so much Nordic- 
God claptrap. It is why in one ear- 
ly and embarrassing corner of the 
women's movement people went 
around talking about earth moth- 
ers and ancient dance. 

Sticking with warriors for a mo- 
ment: The old Saxon poem, The 
Wanderer, has a wimpy warrior 
whining because his lord is 
gone and the great days of kneel- 
ing to the lord are over. Then the 
poem goes on to ask, "And 
where will the gold come from 
now? The booty?" It turns out 
that the wimpy warrior loved the 
boss all right, but he loved the 
deal, too. Warriors don't go to bat- 
tles without promise of booty. A 
good thing to remember if you 
take up warhorship: It invariably 
involves idleness while other peo- 
ple clean up the camp and care 
for children, and if you scratch 
the adoration of the leader, you 
find love of booty. So much for 
warrior grit. 

If thousands of men are describ- 
ing themselves as warrior-novic- 
es, what is the booty offered 
them? It is Psychological Comfort 
Where There Has Been the Begin- 
nings of Discomfort. 

Here is the unconscious mes- 
sage — sent unconsciously by the 
leader to the follower: 

1 , I promise to get the conver- 
sation back onto men and only 
men, the way it used to be before 
the women's movement. 

2. 1 promise that the human con- 
dition is static. Although Plato 
warned people not to read 
myths as if they described ethi- 
cally admirable character, we 
will do it anyway. Vie will stick by 
myths and fairy tales because 
then we don't have to change. 

Now that is what gives the 
men's movement flare, and 
makes it dangerous. DO 



EARTH 



ICE PAX: 

A Soviet-American research team weathers the rigors of Antarctica 

By Billy Allstetter 



Will icebreakers 

lead the way 

to understanding 

global change? 




Explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton's 
hopes of crossing Antarctica 
were dashed in 1 91 5 when an ice 
pack trapped and then crushed 
his ship, Endurance. Shackleton 
and his crew endured more than 
a year on the drifting ice before 
escaping in small boats to the 
South Shetland Islands. Amazing- 
ly, everyone survived. But no one 
has ventured back to the western 
Weddell Sea — until now. 

In February, a Soviet-American 
team ventured into this inhospita- 
ble region for the first time in 77 
years. Researchers plan to 
climb onto an ice floe to conduct 
four to six months of oceanograph- 
ic research. Their goal: to dis- 
cover crucial clues to the earth's 
climatic future held in the waters 
east 'of the Antarctic Peninsula. 

The project could not come at 
a better time. No one questions 
the fact that accumulating green- 
house gases will trap more of the 
sun's energy. The debate heats 
up when people try to predict 
how the earth will respond. 

Scientists know that the 
oceans absorb heat in the trop- 



ics and then vent it into the atmos- 
phere in the polar regions. Off Ant- 
arctica, deep ocean water wells 
up to the surface where the air 
chills it to -2 degrees centigrade. 
The chilled water then sinks to the 
ocean bottom and circulates 
throughout the world. 

Ice plays a pivotal role in the 
process, It serves as an insulat- 
ing blanket, keeping the ocean's 
warmth from escaping into the at- 
mosphere. Changes in the polar 
ice cover could affect the ex- 
change of heat between the 
deep ocean water and the atmos- 
phere and thus change the 
earth's climate. More ice cover 
would hold heat in the Ocean, pro- 
ducing a warmer ocean and cool- 
er atmosphere. "Any warming of 
the deep ocean could moderate 
the greenhouse effect," says Ar- 
nold Gordon, the expedition's 
American team leader and profes- 
sor of oceanography at Columbia 
University's Lamont-Doherty Ge- 
ological Observatory. Less ice 
would have the opposite effect, 
enhancing the greehouse effect. 

Unlike the Arctic ice pack, 



which is relatively stable and 
well understood, the Antarctic is 
neither. Ice forms only during the 
winter months in most of the wa- 
ters off Antarctica, and the 
amount varies from year to year. 
"Relatively small changes in ei- 
ther the atmosphere or ocean 
can lead to a significant change 
in the Antarctic sea ice cover, 
which in turn can have a major im- 
pact on the climate," says 
Douglas. Martinson, a Lamont- 
Doherty oceanographer who will 
make the trip. 

The key is figuring out which 
changes trigger what effects. Re- 
searchers on Soviet and German 
icebreakers have already gath- 
ered valuable information about 
the interactions between ocean, 
air, and ice during three trips in- 
to the winter ice cover. But the 
western Weddell remains a big 
mystery. Why does ice stay 
there year-round? And why does 
water cool as it flows northwest un- 
der the insulating ice cover? 

Only such nagging questions 
could tempt scientists into the 
world's most hazardous region. Be- 
cause the ice is so thick that ice- 
breakers can't penetrate it, the on- 
ly solution is to follow Shackleton: 
Climb onto an ice fioe at the south- 
east edge of the permanent ice 
cover and drift with it 400 miles 
northwest through the western 
Weddell Sea. 

With modern technology, the ex- 
pedition should be less harrowing 
than Shackleton's, but it will be no 
stroll in the park. In addition to the 
harsh climate, minimal medical fa- 
cilities, and long distances to civ- 
ilization, the team faces the extra 
hazard of an unstable campsite 
drifting far from terra firma. 

Even so, the potential for sci- 
entific discovery seems worth the 
unusual risks. "This is going to be 
extraordinarily useful in predicting 
the changing climate of the 
earth," Gordon says.OO 



■ '■ ■ BOBGUCCIONE 






'■:■", ■' .editor in chief's putm 






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READERS' WRITES: 

Life is inspiring in Star Trek, horrifying in Guatemala, 

and artificial in computers 



Boldly Going On 

I was pleasantly surprised to see the im- 
age of the USS Enterprise adorning 
your December 1991 issue, as I was 
equally entertained by director Nick Mey- 
er's article on his dealings with the 
Star Trek phenomenon. Unfortunately, 
Melinda Snodgrass' accompanying ar- 
ticle on The Next Generation struck a 
sour note. I consider myself an intelli- 
gent professional. I do not wear point- 
ed ears to bed, nor have I memorized 
the combination to Jim Kirk's personal 
safe. But I do enjoy both series of Star 
Trek and have learned to appreciate 
Gene Roddenberry's vision. While cred- 
iting the original Star Trek with having 
an impact on society, Snodgrass 
downplays that by stating it reflected, 
rather than shaped, the country's atti- 
tude. In fact, the original show attract- 
ed the attention of Martin Luther King, 
Jr., who urged Nichelle Nichols to stay 
with the show as a role model for black 
women. It inspired the careers of 
young viewers, like the future doctors 
who wrote letters to DeForest Kelley. 
And it made us think optimistically 
both about ourselves and the future. 
Star Trek is not about "the effect the tech- 
nological gimcracks have on people"; 
it's about people. The conflicts present- 
ed on both shows are not new; they are 
conflicts we face every day. The tech- 
nology and the aliens provide an envi- 
ronment that lets us view these issues 
in a different, and sometimes more ob- 
jective, light. Yeah, I know; it's just a TV 
show. But it's a show about characters 
I care about, and it makes me think. 
How many TV shows can boast that? 
Adam Bernard 
Southfield, Ml 

Rock the Cradle 

Concerning the dynamic article on state- 
supported child abuse ("Suffer the Chil- 
dren," November 1991), I would sug- 
gest to the author, W.E. Gutman, that 
overpopulation does not rape, torture, 
and mutilate children. Rapists, torturers, 
and evil people do. Reducing the num- 
ber of victims does not make crime dis- 
appear, it makes the statistics less over- 



whelming. The first surgical procedures 
that came to my mind after reading the 
article were not contraception or abor- 
tion of tomorrow's victims, but the emas- 
culation of today's oppressors. If a na- 
tion can go to war for "a way of life," 
surely it can wage economic and polit- 
ical war for life itself. This nation is 
blessed to have people with the guts 
to photograph, write, and publish such 
articles. Thank you for printing the 
names of organizations that are making 
a genuine effort. 

Cameron Bobro 
Santa Cruz, CA 

I have never seen an article in any mag- 
azine more important than your article 
on state-supported executions of chil- 
dren, As a long-time subscriber of 
Omni, as well as a member of Amnes- 
ty International, I am happy to see 
these organizations work together to ex- 
pose international human rights viola- 
tions. Thank you for having the courage 
to print the truth about the treatment of 
these children and the indifference of 
their governments and ours to the 
plight. You are also right in pointing out 
that preventing people from access to 
birth control ensures that they will 
have more children than they can care 
for. Keep up the great work! 

Kathleen Perez 
Lanham, MD 

Temper, Temper 

As usual I enjoyed your anniversary is- 
sue (October 1991). However, Chris 
Langton's comments [Interview] were 
frightening. The work he is doing, cre- 
ating artificial life in a computer, lacks 
one serious element: What good is it to 
create a life that has no emotion, no 
heart, no awareness of good and bad? 
Langton says, "Any definition of life we 
might make based solely on our own ex- 
perience of life on Earth will be too nar- 
row." But, ish't that speculation too awe- 
some to challenge? I hope Langton 
goes slowly, tempering emotion with the 
life form. 

Katharyn Brown 
FLDO 



ARTIFICIAL 
INTELLIGENCE 



SILENT SCREEN: 

Screenwriters turn to software for-help in fine-tuning scripts 

By Steve Ditiea 



FADE IN. SCENE: A major 
television awards show. 
The screenwriter stands 
behind the podium, clutching a 
gilt statuette and effusively thank- 
ing friends, family, and God for 
their support while writing the 
screenplay that has swept all the 
major awards tonight. 

But the screenwriter fails to 
mention that the screenplay was 
a joint effort. The collaborator 
goes unnoticed, sitting quietly at 
home on a paper-strewn desk in 
a dark house. The much-honored 
screenwriter wrote the screenplay 
in question with the help of a com- 
puter program. 



vantage of a computerized writ- 
ing partner is not "having to ac- 
knowledge him in any way, pub- 
licly or financially." 

Television writer and novelist 
Virginia Browne, who confesses 
she's "never had a successful part- 
nership with a human," has writ- 
ten five scripts (including an ad- 
aptation of Danielle Steele's nov- 
el Daddy) with Collaborator on her 
computer. "It's great," Browne 
says. "There are no personality 
conflicts — and no arguments over 
where to eat lunch." 

The program, an interactive aid 
for plot and character develop- 
ment, asks 70 key questions 



This could 
be the beginning 




of a beautiful 
friendship: Screen- 
writing 
programs ask all 
the right 
questions and 
never demand 
a percentage of 
the gross. 


^^r ' Alt '*'-■■ ' 


p^!a[| 



It's just a matter of time before 
a personal computer collaborates 
on the structure and plotting of an 
Oscar- or Emmy-winning script. 
But even the authors of the soft- 
ware don't expect their creations 
to get the credit they're due: The 
opening sentences of the manual 
for Collaborator, a program for 
Macintosh and IBM PC compati- 
bles that's published by Collabo- 
ration Systems of Sherman Oaks, 
California, emphasize that one ad- 



necessary for box-office or ratings 
suGcess. 

Applying the kind of special- 
ized knowledge found in artificial- 
intelligence programs known as 
"expert systems," Collaborator is 
the first commercial software 
based on the ideas of a human 
expert who died over 2,300 years 
ago. "About three-quarters of Col- 
laborator's questions are based on 
Aristotle's six elements of drama," 
explains Francis Feighan, codevel- 



oper of the program. "All of the ba- 
sics of drama in V\festern civilization 
were worked out by Aristotle — like 
the three-act structure with a begin- 
ning, middle, and end." The rest 
of Collaborator's questions are de- 
rived from the theories of Lajos 
Egri, whose The Art of Dramatic 
Writing has been a fixture on Hol- 
lywood writers' bookshelves in re- 
cent years. 

Collabora tor began with the de- 
sire of former movie reviewer, stu- 
dio publicist, and TV soap and se- 
ries writer Feighan to create a com- 
puterized check list of everything 
he needed to keep in mind when 
plotting and writing a screenplay. 
Together with partners Cary 
Brown, a director for ABC-TV 
sports, and Louis Garfinkle, who 
wrote the original script for The 
Deerhunter, Feighan first worked 
with a programmer in LISP, and 
then Feighan and company start- 
ed over in the compact C lan- 
guage. "If you don't have talent, 
Collaborator can't help you write 
a good screenplay. It will never 
replace anyone in the Writers' 
Guild," says Feighan, referring to 
the screenwriters-' craft union, 
some members of which have al- 
ready expressed opposition to soft- 
ware that could someday com- 
pete for their livelihood. 

Meanwhile, almost all of the dis- 
play advertising for computer soft- 
ware in the Writers' Guiid Journal 
is for computer-assisted screen- 
play programs. In addition to Col- 
laborator and script-formatting soft- 
ware, there's even a program 
called Plots Unlimited, a data 
base capable of generating mov- 
ie plots with up to 200,000 differ- 
ent theme, character, and conflict 
combinations. As with any at- 
tempt to systematize a creative 
pursuit, Collaborator and its ilk 
may well result in writing that is 
formulaic. "Too formulaic for tel- 
evision? Excuse me?" says TV vet- 
eran Browne. DQ 



UUHEGLS 



ALTERNATIVE ENGINES: 

Sputtering to life after years of experimentation 

By Jeffrey Zygmont 




Gone is talk 
of steam power; 
it's dean, but 
forget ever trying 
to pass a hay 
wagon on a coun- 
try road. 



□ n a fine spring day in 
1982 I was driving a 
Cadillac Eldorado that 
ran out of coal. It was a General 
Motors test car powered by a tur- 
bine engine burning pulverized 
anthracite. Such things were 
common in thai era of wild experi- 
mentation, when the rise of environ- 
mentalism plus two severe oil short- 
ages in the 1970s had the auto- 
mobile industry scrambling to re- 
place gasoline engines. 

Ten years later, 

alternative engines 
are at last sputtering 
out of the garage. 
The latest California 
clean-air laws, now 
spreading to other, 
states, demand that 
auto companies of- 
fer some zero-emission cars by 
1998. Thus Ford and Chrysler are 
laying plans to produce main- 
stream battery-powered automo- 
biles. General Motors has already 
assigned a Lansing, Michigan, fac- 
tory for its impact electric commut- 
er car. In Los Angeles, the Swed- 
ish company Clean Air Transport 
is perfecting its electric auto un- 
der the LA Initiative, which aims 
to put 10,000 electrics on city 
streets by the late 1990s. 

All told, you should be able to 
buy a battery-powered automo- 
. bile by at least 1995. Wait 
t another decade or so and 
you may get a turbine- 
driven car, fueled by 
hydrogen, natural 
gas, alcohol, 
gasoline. 




maybe even liquefied coal. Yes, it's 
adding up to be a long wait. But af- 
ter years of dreams and experimen- 
tation, engineers have honed 
away impractical engine options. 

Today, development focuses 
on alternatives that promise to im- 
prove both the quality of auto mo- 
toring and the prospects for en- 
ergy use and the environment. 
Electrics create no emissions. Jet- 
like turbine engines are clean burn- 
ing and durable, and they accept 
a diversity of fuels. Also to come 
are hybrid vehicles that combine 
electric drive with small internal- 
combustion engines to keep bat- 
teries charged. That engine is like- 
ly to be a two-stroke power plant. 
A derivative of the four-stroke en- 
gine used today, two-strokes can- 
pack more power into a small pack- 
age. For that reason they'll prob- 
ably soon replace some four- 
strokes altogether, providing bet- 
ter gas mileage and sleeker, 
more aerodynamic hood lines. 

The early alternatives, howev- 
er, won't meet the expectations of 
dhvers conditioned to today's au- 
tos. Current batteries get fewer 
than 100 miles between recharg- 
es, keeping them only on predict- 
able routes like the daily commute 
to work. To find remedies, car com- 
panies recently created the U.S. 
Advanced Battery Consortium. 
"Its target is to complete the R&D 
necessary for several advanced 
batteries by the middle nineties," 
says Richard Schweinberg, man- 
ager of electric vehicles at South- 
ern 'California Edison, an LA Initi- 
ative sponsor. Also in develop- 
ment are quick-charge batteries 
that cut the overnight recharge pe- 
riod. Work in Japan is yielding bat- 
teries that replenish 40 per- 
cent of their energy in 
about ten minutes. An- 
other scheme to ex- 
tend range is the 
. s "%^... : . roadway-pow- 
nred elec- 



tric vehicle of the Institute of Trans- 
portation Studies at Berkeley's 
University of California. It charg- 
es electric vehicles on the move 
with coils embedded in the road. 

Technical hurdles are delaying 
other engine technologies even 
longer. Before hybrids are feasi- 
ble, scientists must perfect the 
power-switching electronics that 
will mesh engine with battery. Two- 
cycle engines, though favorites 
for the auto industry, heed better 
fuel-injection systems to meet pol- 
lution regulations. And they aren't 
yet durable enough. 

Turbines are awaiting the devel- 
opment of advanced ceramics to 
withstand devilish heat while ro- 
tating at about 100,000 rpm, ex- 
plains GM executive engineer 
Dave Dimick. Moving parts in a tur- 
bine get as hot as 2,500 degrees 
Fahrenheit. The metal that lines to- 
day's gasoline engines gets no hot- 
ter than 1,000 degrees. 

Of course, all such develop- 
ment is costly. That will make new 
engines comparatively expensive 
at first. Clean Air's auto should 
sell for about $25,000 when it 
appears in 1993. General Motor's 
Impact shouldn't cost any less 
than that. 

"With electrics, we're probably 
going to have to play some 
games with government policy be- 
cause they're not going to be ec- 
onomic," says David Cole, head 
of the University of Michigan's Of- 
fice for the Study of Automotive 
Transportation. In California you 
can already get a $1 ,000 tax cred- 
it if you purchase an electric car. 
Electricity rates are cheaper if you 
recharge at night Add to that the 
knowledge that you're doing some- 
thing for the environment and the 
future of the planet— enough to at- 
tract the zealots at feast. 

"It's the beginning of a long jour- 
ney, but we've got to take the 
first step," says the utility execu- 
tive Schweinberg. DO 



BOOKS 

SEEKING THE FUTURE IN THE PAST: 

Two "cyberpunks" take a trip through history 

By Robert K. J. Killheffer 



■ f% ■ ord around ihe sci- 
I I ence fiction communi- 
U U ty these days, partic- 
ularly from readers and authors 
who cut their teeth in the forties 
and fifties, has it that there is some- 
thing missing in contemporary sci- 
ence fiction. Maybe they're right. 
The Difference Engine by William 
Gibson and Bruce Sterling, recent- 
ly released in paperback by Ban- 
tam Spectra, displays a new 
ethos found in many other recent 
science fiction novels. 

The Difference Engine portrays 



Though set 

In an alternate 

past, the 

latest book by 

Gibson and 

Sterling says more 

about the 

state of today's 

science fiction. 




the Victorian era as it might have 
been if the steam-powered, gear- 
laden "analytical engine" design- 
ed by Charles Babbage had ac- 
tually worked — in other words, if 
the computer had been invented 
some hundred years ahead of 
time. This perfectly respectable 
science-fictional idea allows the 
authors to explore the effects of 
technological innovation on hu- 
man society, history, and individ- 
ual lives. But the underlying atti- 
tudes toward science and tech- 
nology in The Difference Engine 



illustrate some major changes 
that have' occurred in science fic- 
tion over the last 40 or 50 years. 

In the heyday known as the 
Golden Age (circa 1938-1945), 
when many of the genre's greats 
such as Asimov and Heinlein 
were getting started, science fic- 
tion was largely characterized by 
an attitude inherited from the ear- 
liest days of the Industrial Revo- 
lution, when steam power, rail- 
roads, and other marvels 
seemed capable of solving every 
problem. "We presuppose . . . 
two things," wrote one of the 
most influential figures of the Gold- 
en Age, John W. Campbell, Jr., 
editor of Astounding Science Fic- 
tion, "that there is yet to be 
learned infinitely more than is now . 
known, and that man can learn 
it." Onward and upward, science 
would be the salvation of human- 
kind. In Gibson's and Sterling's 
book, on the other hand, Bab- 
bage's Difference Engine im- 
proves life — for instance, better 
agricultural methods devised by 
the machine prevent the Irish fam- 
ines of the mid 1840s— but it al- 
so creates drawbacks the Gold- 
en Agers would not have admit- 
ted. Uncontrolled pollution 
spreads a fetid cloud, "the 
Stink," over London, and the gov- 
ernment is already using the com- 
puting power of the Babbage En- 
gine for surveillance and oppres- 
sion of the populace. 

Since the days of the Golden 
Age, we have seen technology 
fall short of our hopes: Nuclear 
power has produced nightmare 
weapons but not the atomic cars 
and appliances foreseen in the 
1950s; environmental abuses 
have grown from nuisances into 
visceral terrors; visions of 20- 
hour workweeks and robot house- 
keepers have vanished in a 
haze of 24-hour offices, smog, 
and overpopulation. While still rec- 
ognizing technology's potential 



for good, The Difference Engine 
admits the likelihood of unfore- 
seen complications and side ef- 
fects of technological advances. 

The Difference Engine also re- 
veals a more recent attitude 
change — questioning not only the 
practical uses of science, but the 
limits of knowledge itself. A math- 
ematical genius strives to create 
a program called the Modus, 
which will predict the outcome of 
random events — and thus prove 
that science can define and con- 
trol any situation, even the vaga- 
ries of chance. But the program 
fails, and the programmer must ad- 
mit by the end that "there is no 
finite mathematical way to ex- 
press the property of truth." Dur- 
ing this century, the theories of Ein- 
stein, Godel, Heisenberg, and oth- 
ers have made the Golden Age's 
firm faith in the unlimited poten- 
tial of human knowledge less ten- 
able. Heisenberg's Uncertainty 
Principle shows that there are 
strict limits to our ability to dis- 
cover everything. The speed of 
light seems an unchallengeable 
absolute velocity. Subatomic par- 
ticles once thought indivisible 
have revealed a still unplumbed 
array of ever-smaller compo- 
nents. The Difference Engine re- 
flects this sense that science can- 
not entirely encompass the mys- 
teries of the universe. 

Perhaps dramatic new success- 
es in deciphering the mysteries of 
creation will spark more grand, op- 
timistic visions of the future; or 
maybe our collective experiences 
this century have yielded a cau- 
tious maturity that will forever col- 
or our perceptions of science and 
technology. Either way, The Dif- 
ference Engine makes it clear 
that science fiction will be with us, 
weaving our attitudes into fictions 
thai speak to the modern mind. 
Even when it carries us to the 
past, science fiction will lead us 
into the future. Dd 



POLITICAL SCIENCE 



TRASHING MEXICO: 
Free Trade or Free Ride? 

By Tom Dworetzky 



□ nee in hard, beautiful Co- 
lombia the ravages of 
Third World environmen- 
tal devastation were brought 
home to me as I watched a ten- 
year-old girl in a miraculously spot- 
less white dress. Done with morn- 
ing chores, she danced about in 
the ankle-deep juices that ran ev- 
erywhere in the village patchwork 
of huts rutted into the valley bot- 
tom. Hopping on slippery stones 
through a nasty brew of waste 
and slag-water from the coal 
mine up the valley, she managed 
to keep that white dress clean. 
She was sickly, as were most of 
the other children. The little boys 
in the village, already working in 
the mine, I was told, even now suf- 
fered the lung ills associated 
with coal dust. 

Television footage recently re- 
minded me of the girl: It showed 
one- of the shanty towns where 
$1 .40-an-hour laborers struggle 
to get by in the trade zones along 
the Mexican border abutting the 
United States. Today, about 
2,000 multinational facilities locat- 



A wonderful 

thing far Mexico? 

Multinational 

factories in free 

pump out toxins. 
Here, the 
severely polluted 
New River 
at the California- 
Mexicali border. 



ed in specially designated areas 
within 100 kilometers of the bor- 
der — so-called maquiladoras — 
already crank out $4 billion a 
year and are Mexico's second larg- 
est cash cow, after oil, The Bush 
administration proposes expand- 
ing this trade arrangement with a 
new North American Free Trade 
Agreement now being negotiated 
by representatives of both na- 
tions and Canada. It would basi- 
cally open up all of Mexico to the 
same opportunities. 

Sure, the money's lousy, the 
work is hard, but if you're an im- 
poverished worker in a broke coun- 
try, even this type of economic col- 
onization sounds, on the surface, 
like a better deal. 

Except that these factories' re- 
cord of the last 25 or so years sug- 
gests their benefits cbme with a 
hefty environmental price tag. The 
maquiladoras appear to be trash- 
ing the local water, air, and land — 
and saving companies tons of 
dough on compliance with those 
stupid U.S. environmental regula- 
tions. Mexican law is pretty stiff 




too. It requires that toxic wastes 
(like used solvents) should be re- 
turned to the country of origin. 
Since the stuff is imported from 
the U.S., that means us. But even 
Ihe more generous estimates, ac- 
cording to San Francisco-based 
Kathleen Shimmin of the Environ- 
mental Protection Agency, would 
leave as much as two-thirds unac- 
counted for. "The general idea is 
that there's a lot going out of the 
U.S., and much less coming 
back," she says. Brent Blackweld- 
er, president of Friends of the 
Earth, USA, testified before the 
House of Representatives last 
fall that air pollution from the 
maquiladora industries is so bad 
it's impinging on areas as far 
north as the Grand Canyon. 

Yet EPA's Shimmin is "cautious- 
ly optimistic" about the Agree- 
ment, arguing that the money it 
brings will enable Mexico to hire 
more inspectors. Moreover, en- 
forcement of the Mexican pollu- 
tion laws is something the Bush 
administration has promised to 
promote. Of course, this is the 
same administration that made a 
raft of domestic "green" promis- 
es that have wilted in the face of 
perceived economic necessities. 

We probably won't hear much 
about this business until after the 
elections. Its potential to increase 
the flow of jobs offshore alone 
makes it one hot election potato. 
But during Bush's second term 
(Am I being presumptuous to as- 
sume he'll be reelected?) the 
trade pact will probably go 
through. Domestically, our green- 
backing President has turned out 
to be talking more about the col- 
or of money than the color of na- 
ture. For the sake of Mexico, let's 
hope that his foreign green prom- 
ises are environmental — not just 
economic— and that somehow 
during pact talks Mother Nature 
doesn't fall further victim to the 
fast-buck shuffle. DO 



22 OMNI 



ELECTRONIC 
UNIVERSE 



EDUTAINMENT: 

A growing genre of software makes learning fun-damental 

By Gregg Keizer 



computer soft- 
provide a fresh 



Bread and circus- 
es, home style, 
doesn't have to 
mean pizza and 
] The Simpsons. If 
have a 
home camput- 
-and kids at 
home — you can 
twist the Roman 
tradition just far enough to 
squeeze in some learning while 
you stuff them with pepperoni. 

Edutainment, not a word to 
speak in front of touchy educa- 
tors, describes the kind of com- 
puter software in which fun takes 
first place, education a back seat. 





teaming every- 
thing 
from new 
words to new 
worlds. 



The idea, cynical and pragmatic, 
is that it takes a healthy dose of 
entertainment to keep kids in 
front of the computer screen 

long enough for them to learn. 

The grand dame of Edutain- 
ment is a red-headed maverick 
named Carmen Sandiego, a harm- 
less but egotistical culture burglar 
who heads a gang that steals na- 
tional and international treasures. 
First brought to life eight years 
ago by Br^derbund in Where in 
the World Is Carmen Sandiego? 
(IBM PC compatibles, Macintosh, 
Nintendo), Carmen has waltzed 
through Europe, the USA, and 



time. In each of her five adven- 
tures, Carmen and her crooks 
walk off with things like the 
"Mona Lisa," the Pyramids, Ben 
Franklin's kite, and the Constitu- 
tion. Kids play detective as they 
track the criminals in a geograph- 
ic game that demands small dos- 
es of research and problem solv- 
ing and a working knowledge of 
places, people, and culture. Play- 
ers dig up clues about the thief's 
next stop and then try to nab the 
crook before time runs out, 

Even though Carmen's head- 
ing to CD-ROM, where speech, 
better images, and music is pos- 
sible, she's showing her age. The 
series shares a simple hunt-then- 
chase plot line and takes some crit- 
ical hits for its learning-through- 
osmosis attitude. 

A bit breezier is Davidson's 
Headline Harry and the Great Pa- 
per Chase (IBM PC compatibles, 
Macintosh), Tied to geography 
and history, as is Carmen, Head- 
line Harry adds investigative jour- 
nalism to its game, Kids spin 
through space and time across 
the U.S., from the fifties to nine- 
ties, looking, for the who, what, 
when, and where of a news sto- 
ry, and trying to scoop the Diabol- 
ical Daily reporters. 

Headline Harry's game is 
more fun for adults than Carmen's 
adventures, and just as much fun 
for kids. The chase is still there. 
But Harry tosses more education- 
al crumbs on the table, for you've 
got to sort out the lead story from 
a minor blizzard of distracting 
facts, keep a notebook full of 
quotes, and even write the win- 
ning headline of your story. If on- 
ly Headline Harry let the kids 
write the story, too .... 

Geography's not the only sub- 
ject that needs some under-the- 
table help. That's why The Learn- 
ing Company's Super Solvers 
Spelldown! (IBM PC compatibles) 
is worth a look. 



Spelldown bundles together 
three word games — a find-the- 
word puzzle, a crossword puzzle, 
and flash cards— that test chil- 
dren's spelling skills. But it's the 
spelling bee that draws kids to the 
screen and keeps them there. To 
reach the bee, kids must com- 
plete two or more of the word 
games, so they can't simply 
head, for the most entertaining 
part of the program. What sepa- 
rates Spelldown frorrrother spell- 
ing software is the speech — you 
don't need a special sound 
board in your PC to hear the fe- 
male voice intone "Spell the 
word pajamas." 

National Geographic's Mam- 
mals, a CD-ROM disc-based en- 
cyclopedia and game, offers a 
glimpse of Edutainment's future. 
You need a CD-equipped PC to 
play with Mammals, but Sony's La- 
ser Library, a $600-$700 CD 
drive and disc six-pack combo, 
includes the disc in its lineup. 

Kids have as much fun just root- 
ing through Mammafc'encyclope- 
dic entries as they do playing its 
guess-the-animal game. Hun- 
dreds of still images of the plan- 
et's mammals, extensive articles, 
word pronunciations, and animal 
sounds combine to give kids lots 
of information in.a multimedia pack- 
age. Pick "Sea Lion," and you'll 
see its order (carnivore), habits, 
food, and endangered species 
status. Click on other icons to 
spot its habitat or hear it bellow. 

Computer edutainment is a 
long, long way from replacing TV 
in a kid's day. But its sugar-coat- 
ed approach to learning is at 
least a start. Only when software 
grabs hold of an eight-year-old's 
attention the way Wile E. Coyote 
grabs for Road Runner will TV- 
phobic and technology-rich par- 
ents breathe easier, 

In the meantime, dangle a learn- 
ing carrot in front of your kids' 
eyes. Maybe they'll bite. DO 



GARnes 



WORKPLACE WITTICISMS: 

Posting the results of Competition #53 

By Scot Morris 




Last April, we devoted the 
column- to modern folklore of 
the office bulletin board 
and asked readers to send 
in their favprrte examples 
of this-genre. 

In the nearly 2,000 ex- 
amples of paper lore 
that came in, we saw many 
versions of the same 
item. That was expected, 
but it made awarding prizes 
somewhat difficult. 

I decided to give the $1GQ 
grand prize to. Kenn Howard 
of Pittsburgh for an entry 
that wasn't duplicated and 
was new to me (top left). 
The following nine runners- 
up each received $25 and 
a copy of my book, The 
Emperor Who Ate the Bible 
and Other Strange FaGts 
and Useless Information' 
David Broome, Phoenix, 
Arizona; Cheryl Cricher, 
Asheville, North Carolina; 
John Hansen, Tulsa, Okla- 
homa; Nancy LeBlanc, 

28 OMNI 



The Pas, Manitoba. Canada: 
Bill Masyn, Vienna, Virginia; 
Lisa Mearing, Paw Paw, 
K'\ ichic, an; David. G. Pierce, 
Syracuse, New York; Brent 
Turner, Orange, California; 
and Donna T Wong, 
Montreal, Quebec, Canada. 

Of the short signs and 
slogans submitted, here are 
the most popular; 

The beatings will continue 
until morale improves. 

— The Management 

SIX PHASES 
OF A PROJECT "" 

1. Enthusiasm 

2. Disillusionment 

3. Panic 

4. Search for the guilty 

5. Punishment of the 

innocent 

6. Praise and reward for the 

nonparficipants 

BULLETIN. 
The Occupational Safety & 



Health Adm -iist.ra::on (OS- 
H.A) has determined that the 
maximum safe load capaci- 
ty on my butt is two persons 
at one time — unless I install 
handrails or safety straps. 
As. you have arrived sixth in 
line to ride my ass today, 
please take a number and 
wait your turn, Thank you. 

Math and alcohol don't mix. 
Please don't drink and 
derive. (A message from 
Mathematicians Against 
Drunk Deriving) 

LONESOME? 
Like to meet new people? 
Like a change? Like 
excite'Tieni? Like a new job? 
Just screw up one more 
time! 

NOTICE 
This department requires no 
physical-fitness program. 
Everyone gets enough 
exercise jumping to conclu- 



sions, flying off- the handle, 

running down the boss, 
kniling friends in the back, 
dodging responsibility, and 
pushing their luck. 

We have not succeeded in 
answering all your prob- 
lems. The answers we have 
found only serve to raise a 
whole set of new questions. 
In some ways, we feel we 
are as confused as ever, but 
we believe we are confused 
on a higher level and about 
more important things. 

Only the truly mediocre are 
always at their besL 

NOTICE 

Sexual harassment in this 
area will not be reported. 
However, it will be graded! 

When I woke up this 
morning, I had one nerve 
left, and now you're, getting 
on it. DO 




caruTifuuuan 

LAWNMOWER MAN: 

Adventure in Cyberfiction. Plus, killer bees reveal their identity, and a 

cathedral's lofty garden becomes fruitful and multiplies 




We've all heard the 
hype about virtual re- 
ality, how it's going to 
change the founda- 
tions of our lives, etc., 
etc. Now it's about to 
hit the silver screen 
with TheLawnMower 
Man, released nation- 
ally at the beginning 
of March. The film, 
which takes its name 
from a Stephen King 
short story, is "a cau- 
tionary tale which 
shows both the posi- 
tive and negative po- 
tential of virtual reali- 
ty technology," ac- 
cording to the film's 
director and cowriter Brett Leonard. 

It stars Jeff Fahey as Jobe Smith, a gentle simpleton 
and gardener nicknamed the Lawnlvlower Man, who be- 
comes the guinea pig for Dr. Lawrence Angelo's (Pierce 
Brosnan) cybertech experiments aimed at accelerating 
intelligence through the use of virtual reality. "What we've 
done." says Leonard, "is to take the King character and 
adapt him to be like a Mary Shelley Frankenstein who 
gets transformed through VR into a kind of superhuman." 

And transformation is indeed the central theme. 
-Through a crash course of virtual reality learning and in- 
jections of a radical new "smart" drug, the simpleton quick- 
ly acquires telekinetic and psychic powers, but then ail 
goes horribly wrong and he begins to lust for more knowl- 
edge, more heightened reality, and ultimately more pow- 
er. By the film's climax he has become a complete digital 
cyberbeing, no longer human at all but a virtual reality 
monster. What starts out as a positive trarsfc~aiion, show- 
ing the potentially good side of VR, ends up being a ter- 
rifying tale of what might happen if the technology got 
into the wrong hands. According to Leonard, this is not 
going to endear him to some sectors of the VR communi- 
ty who would have us believe their toys hold nothing but 
good in store. 

As Jobe undergoes his transformation, he is projected 
into various virtual reality worlds, which are entirely com- 
puter generated. Twenty minutes of the film is composed 
of computer graphics and digital effects. But here again, 
Leonard has gone out on a limb, creating what he calls a 



■:■/!:■-&''<:- S5fie:ic. some- 
thing "totally abstract," 
something that could 
not be done with mod- 
els and mattes — the 
traditional tools of spe- 
cial-effects teams. So 
the look of the film is al- 
most surreal. It's a 
bold step to take, par- 
ticularly when most 
films, including 72 — 
although created on a 
computer — are de- 
signed to look as life- 
like as possible. Leon- 
ard says he wanted a 
look that was "inher- 
ent to computer graph- 
ics." The result is some- 
thing much more arty than we are used to seeing in Holly- 
wood films, but Leonard believes that this is the way of 
the future for science fiction. 

Three separate companies are creating the computer 
graphics — Angel Studios, XAOS, and Homer and Associ- 
ates. Angel Studios is creating scenes in which Jobe and 
Dr. Angelo play an interactive VR game called Cyber- 
boogie, a high-speed steeplechase through a series of 
obstacle-filled three-dimensional environments. This 
takes place in a fully computer-generated world in which 
the players are represented by part human, part futuristic 
cyberboogie racing machines. 

While the film is about virtual reality, moviegoers will 
not be donning special glasses or headsets to see it. In 
this sense, it's a normal film. You will not get the VR expe- 
rience of actually being inside a three-dimensional world, 
but in the graphics scenes you will see what such worlds 
might look like in the future. At present, most VR systems 
are fairly crude, but the technology is developing extreme- 
ly fast. According to David C. Traub, an immersion com- 
puting expert from Centerpoint Communications who was 
a consultant on the film, by "looking beyond the futuristic 
luster of these new toys to the somewhat pained fanta- 
sies they often portray," The LawnMower Man will give us 
some powerful hints about what might be in store. 

After seeing this film you're either going to be hanging 
out for the experience yourself or out there picketing 
against it. For good or evil, the age of VR is upon us — 
both on and off the screen.— MARGARET WERTHEIM . 




CDRJTiruuunn 



THE TRIPLE HELIX 

Almost 40 years ago, 
Dlologists James Watson and 
Francis Crick took a dramatic 
step toward deciphering 
the molecular code of life 
when they described the 
structure of DNA: A "double 
helix," they called it — two 
long strands of nucleic acids 
coiled around one another. 
Now a team of scientists from 
Houston has learned how io 
wrap a third strand around 
the surface of the DNA 
molecule. The technique 
could lead to breakthroughs 
ranging from treatment for 
cancers and viral diseases to 
an elegant new means of 
chemical birth control. 

Scientists have long 
known that nature left room 
for a third strand on the DNA 
molecule's surface, and 
since 1986, Michael Hogan 
of the Baylor College of 
Iv'edicine has been working 
on building such strands 
from nucleic acid "building 
blocks," called nucleotides. 
The strands with which he 
succeeded measure only 25 
to 35 nucleotides long: 
natural DNA strands can 
consist of millions of 
nucleotides. The new strands 
appear to attach neatly to 
genes in [he nuclei of certain 
cells. Hogan's third strands 
block the action of the 
proteins that normally acti- 
vate the genes, in effect 
shutting the genes down. 

Hogan's Baylor colleague 
Bert O'Malley has shown — in 
test tubes, at least— that third 
strands can block the action 
of the hormone progester- 
one, which is essential for 
fertilization in the reproduc- 
tive process. O'Malley plans 

32 OMNI 




rc :est these third strands in 
mice to see if they prove 
successful as a contracep : 
tfVe. Collaborators at Baylor 
and elsewhere have ob- 
tained similar results. 

The third strands might 
also be used to cripple 
viruses, such as those caus- 
ing AIDS and herpes, and to 
block crjc a cones in cancer 
cells, according to Hogan. 

"We're not trying to alter 
the genes," Hogan says. 
"We're just making chemi- 



DWARF WILLOWS ARE 
THE WORLD'S 
SMALLEST TREES. THEY 
GROW ONLY TWO 
INCHES TALL ON THE 
TUNDRA OF GREENLAND. 



cg:s that bind to genes." 
Worries over long-term 
effects are "no different from 
concerns raised by ordinary 
drugs!"— Bill Lawren 



DOES IT COME 
WITH FRUIT AT THE 
BOTTOM? 

Yogurt has always been 
considered a health food. 
With the addition of a certain 
fermenting bacterium, it 
becomes really good for you, 
according to two professors 
at the Tufts University School 
of Medicine. 

"There have always been 
health claims that certain 
bacteria can prolong life, 
make hair grow, clear up 
acne," says Barry Goldin, a 
oicchemist and enzyme 
specialist. "So the notion 
was, let's add a good 
bacteria to a nutrient-rich 
food, such as milk, and see 
what happens." 

After 15 years of research, 
he and infectious diseases 
specialist Sherwood Gor- 
bach developed Lactobacil- 
lus GG, a strain of bacteria 
that can survive in the 
human intestine. (Lactobacil- 
lus bulgaricus and Strepto- 
coccus thermophilus, 
bacteria commonly added to 
yogurt, have no proven 
therapeutic: value.) The new 
strain clears up infant 
diarrhea in 48 hours instead 
of 72 hours, Goldin says. 
In tests of 150 infants at the 
University of Tampere 
in Finland, where yogurt is 
almost a national dish, yogurt 
made from Lactobacillus GG 
produced "a significant" 
cure rate, It also eliminated 
adult antibiotic diarrhea, 
common in older patients. 
The GG bacterium is now 
beng studied at University 
Hospital in Lima, Peru, where 
half of all children die by age 
5, often of acute diarrhea. 

Lactobacillus GG may 



IF IT STINGS LIKE A 




KILLER BEE... 


iftrol 


Three decades after ihe 


accidental release of Afri- 




can "killer" bees in Brazil, 




the voracious singer has 




now reached southern 


■rH' i 


Texas. Threaten Jr. c ;he 




livelihood— and the lives — 




of beekeepers, the invader 




looks virtually identical to 




aeruler domoslic oees. To 




tell friend from foe, enter the 




"temper tester,- developed 


-Y)-=i= c..'«= e { a S honey 


by Hayward Spangier and 




Eric Erickson of the U.S. 


lost. The more Africanized 


Department of Agriculture's 


iees, however, attack 


Carl Hayden Bee Research 


between 7 and 24 times 


Center in- Tucson, Arizona. 


3e r second. 


Consisting of a bottie 


The temper tester's 


with a sensor inside, the 


implicity and reliability 


temper tester measures the 


nake it ideal for use by 


frequency of attacks mount- 


jark rangers, state bee 


ed- by a suspect hive. To 


nspectors, and beekeep- 


incite the. bees for the test, 


ers, Spangler says. 


the Operator, clothed- in 


After testing the device 


protective gear, blows air af 


jn his African colony, 


the hive through a long 


Spangler counted 395 


tube and then dangles the- 


tingers embedded in just 


bottle directly in the bees' 


ne shoe, Still, he insists the- 


path. Domestic vane tics 


echnique is safe— "when 


typically attack the bottle a 


sed with protective cloth- 


few times per second at 


ng." — Kathleen McAuliffe 



also fight colorectal cancer. 
Armed with a two-year grant 
from the American Institute 
for Cancer Research, Goidin 
and Gorbach report that in 
early studies, GG bacteria 
reduced ihe average number 
of colon tumors in rats from 4 
(o 1 .5. The scientists are now 
trying to determine at what 
point in the cancer's growth 
process the lactobacillus 
inhibits tumor formation. 

"Colon cancer found in 
rats looks very similar to 
human colon cancer in terms 
of where it occurs and how it 



spreads," Gorbach says. 
"It's a clue." 

"But because we don't 
know what causes human 

colon cancer," Goidin adds, 
"one can't conclude that 
what works for rats would 
necessarily work for hu- 
mans." — George Nobbe 

"Remember not only to say 
the right thing in the 
ngm place, but, tar more 
difficult, to leave 
unsaid the wrong thing at 
the tempting moment. " 

— Benjamin Franklin 



COMPUTING WITH 
BACTERIA 

Just as humans trace their 
origins io the primordial 
ooze, future generations of 
computers may owe much 
to the salt marshes of today. 
Bacteria in the marshes 
produce compounds that 
could allow computers to 
store an entire library's worth 
of information in a one- 
inch cube, according to 
Robert Birge, director of 
Syracuse University's Center 
fc Ivbecular Electronics. 

When molecules of a 
protein known as bacterio- 
rhodopsin (bR) absorb 
light, they change color, from 
purple to yellow. These 
two forms of bR can store 
and retrieve information 
much as today's digital 
computers do. Such com- 
puters recall and store data 
by switching their numerous 
elements from on to off and 
vice versa; when intersecting 
laser beams hit bR arrays, 
the molecules similarly 
change state, from purple to 
yellow or vice versa. 

Two-dimensional bR films 



GIBBONS ARE 
RENOWNED FOR THEIR 
TREE-SWINGING 
PROWESS. NONETHE- 
LESS, ONE IN FOUR 
ADULT GIBBONS HAS 
BROKEN AT LEAST 
ONE BONE IN AERIAL 
ACCIDENTS. 



have been around for a 
while. This fall, Birge 
announced that he had 
embedded bR in small 
cubes of plastic. "We now 
have access to a third 
dimension," he says. "That 
gives you a one-thousand- 
(o five-thousandfold increase 
in memory." 

Birge's work employs two 
cutting-eoge ".echrcloges. 
optical computing and 
molecular computing. Comput- 
ers using these technolo- 
gies won't be hitting store 
shelves for 10 to 15 
years, although AT&T Bell 
Laboratories unveiled 
the first optical computer last 
■year. — Billy Allstetter 





coruTiruuunn 



A HEAVENLY 
GARDEN 

New York City environ- 
mentalists have, as the song 
says, found their paradise 
up on a roof. Biologists at the 
Gaia Institute, located at the 
Cathedral of St. John the 
Divine, are finalizing plans for 
a rooftop greenhouse and 
recycling center that will turn 
a ton of food scraps, yard 
waste, and paper each day 
into compost to support a 
lush urban garden. 

The $450,000 Urban 
Rooftop Greenhouse Project, 
the first of its kind in the 
United States, will serve as a 
prototype for thousands of 
other rooftop greenhouses 
that one day could handle 
between 10 and 30 percent 
of the country's urban solid 
waste, turning cities into "net 
exporters of vegetables," 
says Gaia Institute director 
Paul Mankiewicz. 
' Using-his own specially 
formulated lightweight soil, a 
combination of recycled 



Styrofoarn and organic 
matter, Mankiewicz 
will shortly plant his first crop 
of herbs, exotic salad 
greens, bulb flowers, and 
houseplants atop a nine:eerlh- 
century Greek revival 
burdhg n the cathedral 



THERE ARE MORE THAN 
600 ACTIVE VOLCANOES 
IN THE WORLD; 
ABOUT 80 OF THEM ARE 
UNDER THE SEA. 



complex. The compost, 
collected from the cathe- 
dral's school and near- 
by Columbia University, will 
be stored in hanging bins 
along the roofs parapet walls 
so nutrients can drip into 
an underground feeding 
systen ihat will nourish the 
plants. The garden's harvest 
may be sold through 
the cathedral shop and to 
neighborhood stores 
and restaurants. 




High above New York City, a 
caihaorai's garden flourishes. 

Rooftop greenhouses can 
become a multibillion- 
dollar business capable of 
rev'-fjizing urban economies, 
creating jobs for displaced 
agricultural workers, saving 
on food-packaging and 
transport costs, and remov- 
ing tons of organic material 
from the solid-waste stream, 
iVIark'ewicz says. He esti- 
mates that each year a 



rooftop greenhouse of 8,000 
square feet could yield 
some 40 to 50 pounds of 
produce per square foot, 
"■eeting the needs of one city 
block of low-rise buildings. 
Besides the obvious benei is. 
rooftop greenhouses will 
also moderate building 
temperatures and foil bur- 
glars by limiting roof access. 

"The wealth of an 
ecosystem is its capacity to 
turn waste back into 
resources," Mankiewicz 
says. "Cities are now taking 
resources and turning 
them into waste. What we 
should like to do is close that 
circle so that what now 
becomes pollutants in rivers 
or heaps in landfills will 
become part of the urban 
food web again." 

— Mary Ellin Barrett 

"Thinking is easy, acting 
difficult, and to put 
one's thoughts into action, 
the most difficuit thing 
in the world." 

— Johann von Goethe 





HARD TO SWALLOW 


developed CorTemp. a 


care. "We're now looking 








thermometer in a pill that 


into using the pill to monitor 




Finally, 


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monitors a patient's tem- 


football players who are in 




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perature as it travels Through. 


danger of heat stress during 




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ght bulb to 


the digestive tract. 


summer training, says. Bill 




| counterfei 


a fever. NASA's 


A silicone capsule the 


Hicks, president of Human 




Goddard Space Flight 


size of a large vitamin pill 


Technologies in St. 




Center and the Johns 


houses a quartz crystal 


Petersburg, Florida, which 




k Hopkins University Applied 


temperature sensor, battery, 


manufactures CorTemp. 




| Physics Laboratory have 


and telemetry system that 


Customers have found 








transmit temperature read- 


diverse uses for the device. 


'■J0t0' 






ings to an external monitor. 


One company implanted 


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Currently in clinical trials, 


it in giant outdoor video 


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CorTemp is ntencec for 


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l .0i0lm^>' 






situations in which a 


in the sun, "One guy, 1 ' 






patient's "temperature must 


Hicks says, "is even using it 








be- observed over an 


to monitor the temperature 




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extended time, as in sleep 


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disorders and intensive 


—Cynthia L Pollock 



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cofirnruuunn 



A SURPRISE FOR 

8AMBI 

They certainly don't look it, 
but deer can be dangerous. 
They harbor ticks carrying 
Lyme disease, a debilitating 
illness that attacks humans' 
central nervous system and 
internal organs. Now a 
physician in Armonk, New 
York, has invented a 
decidedly low-tech gazebo 
(or white-tailed deer that he 
thinks can significantly re- 
duce the population of those 
hazardous ticks. 

Kenneth B. Liegner plans 
to bait his gazebo with a salt 
lick. When an unsuspecting, 
tick-laden deer steps on the 
structure's floor, a weight 
sensor activates silent hid- 
den pumps, spraying the 
animal with insecticide from 
an underground reservoir. 
Liegner plans to run field 
tests with cyfluthrin, an 
insecticide approved by the 
Environmental Protection Agen- 
cy that kills the ticks but 
poses scant danger to the 
animals that carry them. 

Liegner's invention has a 
lot going for it, especially in 



IN AN ADULT MALE, 
THE EPIDIDYMIS, THE TUBE 
THAT CARRIES SPER- 
MATOZOA, IS 15 TO 20 
FEET LONG. 

PREHISTORIC DRAGON- 
FLIES WERE THE SIZE 
OF MODERN PIGEONS. 



light of the mathematics of 
Lyme disease. Entomologists 
have found as many as 500 
female Ixodes dammini ticks 
on a single deer, each 
capable of laying 2,500 to 
3,500 eggs, so spraying one 
animal could prevent 1.5 
million eggs from being laid. 

' After being sprayed, a 
deer could emerge from the 
gazebo and collect a new set 
of ticks, starting the cycle all 
over again, Liegner admits. 
"Deer are something like 
vacuum cleaners for ticks," 
says the physician, who 
envisions insecticide-spray- 
ing gazebos deployed wiaeiy 
over woodland areas. 

— George Nobbe 




MOUNTAINS OF 
THE SEA 

A ten-mile chain of small 
mountains has sprouted 
since 1981 on the ocean floor 
about 300 miles off the 
Oregon coast, Scientists at 
the Hatfield Marine Science 
Center in Newport, Oregon, 
first discovered the fresh 
pillow lava mounds in 1989 
using an underwater camera, 
and they confirmed the 
finding in 1990 during dives 
in the submersible Alvin one 
and a half miles below the 
ocean surface. When they 
made the discovery, they 




Tick, tick, lick, tick: These graceful deer most likely carry dozens of ticks, which can transmit Lyme 
disease to humans. A specially designed gazebo might help rid deer of ticks— at least temporarily. 

36 OMNI 



were inspecting a sub- 
merged mountain chain, 
called the mid-ocean ridge, 
that separates the Pacific 
and Juan de Fuca tectonic 
plates, which are slowly 
drifting apart. 

The scientists first noticed 
a difference in the sea floor 
when they compared sound- 
ings and underwater photo- 
graphs taken in 1989 with a 
survey map of the sea floor 
made in 1981. This recent 
activity indicates that ihe sea 
floor spread a few inches 
since 1981, according to 
Robert Embley, Chris Fox, 
and William Chadwick. Fluid 
lava oozed out from the sea 
floor. like toothpaste from a 
tube, forming the new 
100-foot-high mounds. 

"This is the first documen- 
tation of a deep-water 
eruption on a mid-ocean 
ridge," Embley says. "Before 
this, no one had a clue to the 
volume, the rate of flow, or 
the time period of these 
eruptions." 

The research team is 
studying the lava eruptions' 
relation to megaplumes, 
huge underwater plumes of 
mineral-rich water as hot as 
700°F. Scientists found 
megaplumes nearby in 1986 
and 1987. 

'The sudden input of large 
plumes associated with sea 
floor spreading affects the 
ocean's chemistry," Embley 
says. — Scott Knap 

"Losing the collected wis- 
dom of the rain forest 
tribes would be like burning 
every library in Ihe world 
without bothering to look at 
what was on the shelves." 
— as quoted by Anita Roddick 
in her book, Body and Sou! 




conjTiruuunn 



Want to keep a close eye 
on how much time 
your kids spend in front of the 
television set? Look 
for a new device called 
TimeSlot, invented by 
three North 
Carolinians. 




By using what the in- 
ventors call an administrator 
card, which gives access 
to a control unit attached to 
the set's power cord, 
parents can program both 
the hours in which the 
television may be turned on 
and the amount of lime 
their children may watch. 
Each child gets his or her 
own bar-coded card, which 
he or she inserts into 
the control unit when ready to 
watch TV. An optical 
scanner inside the book- 
sized device reads the card 
and triggers a clock to 



start counting down the time 
allotted the child. It shuts off 
the set when time runs out, 

"We didn't design it as a 
punitive parent tool," says 
Leland W. Poole, a founder of 
Raleigh-based Design Di- 
mension. "We think of it more 
as a way to help kids man- 
age their time, especially latch- 
key kids who can become too 
dependent on TV." 

Poole and coinventors 
Stephen W. Smith and 
William C. Stewart admit that 
any reasonably bright child 
could easily outwit their 
$129 system. For instance, 



several kids in a large family 
could simply agree to watch 
the same shows, subtract- 
ing the time from just one 
child's card, and thus 
expand their viewing time. 
— George Ncbbe 

A ROCK AND A 
HARD PLACE 

Choosing between help- 
ing to overheat the planet or 
dumping toxic chemicals in 
waterways and forests 
wouldn't be pleasant. Some 
environmental officials, how- 
ever, have to do just that, 



DURING A SEVEN-HOUR SLEEP PERIOD, A HEALTHY 
25-YEAR-OLD PERSON WAKES TEN TIMES. BY 
COMPARISON, A HEALTHY SENIOR CITIZEN WAKES 
AN AVERAGE OF 153 TIMES IN THE SAME PERIOD. 



now that evidence suggests 
that efforts to minimize acid 
rain could unintentionally 
accelerate global warming. 

When sulfur dioxide in the 
atmosphere transforms to 
sulfate, acid rain results. 
Sulfate molecules cluster 
together in suspended parti- 
cles called aerosols, which 



form the nuclei of acidic 
water drops. 

The Environmental Protec- 
tion Agency has called for 
dramatic cuts in sulfur 
dioxide emissions by the 
year 2000. However, recent 
satellite data suggest that 
aerosols, particularly those 
formed by sulfates, may play 



a key role in cooling the Earth 
by reflecting solar radiation 
that would otherwise reach 
the surface. These findings 
may explain why the 
observed warming of the 
planet — about 0.5'C over the 
past century — has fallen 
short of predictions. 

"By clamping down on 
sulfur-dioxide emissions, we 
might be removing the 
brakes on global warming," 
says Daniel Jacob, a Har- 
vard University atmospheric 
chemist. "Although acid rain 
is bad, the alternative may 
be far worse." — Steve Nadis 






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._..i Maurizio Zifferero's twenty-eighth-floor office in the Vienna International Centre, the 
Danube might be a shiny band of gray metal, wandering off toward Germany through *.__. 
green hills and vineyards, bounded by monasteries, ruined castles, and the neat agricultural gaa 
patchwork of Austria. But the landscape ^^ seen most clearly from this high window is less the 

i/ers than of a world built on tl 



ts at the United Nations' International Atomic Energy 

nd have-nots, the minority of nations lusting to feed 

has chosen the path of celibacy, at least where nu- 

is been a world of uncommon order, as depend- 

inor's medieval court at Aqui 

veapons; the handful of vill... _ 
ambiguity, although^^some had brazenly galloped off down the atomic trail. 
On this day at the \m end of September 1991, however, that world of easily identified 
remote, as lost, as twelfth -century chivalry as distant as the 
wailed a year ago. Now, nuclear disarmament is upon us, global tensions 
a noble war has been quickly concluded in the Per: 
ould come up for a happy ending. Instead, one feels something 
gh and unformed, a beginning, the flickering dawn of an epoch 
', in its smaller way, may be worse than what we ha ' 
'erhaps Zifferero, the patrician Italian radiochemist _._ 
room, feels this dying of the old nuclear era and broo< 
nut the new. But most likely he is concerned entirely — 
with the present. Along with a Da- #*\ liesque ab- ^^k Vum/\| PAR 
stract, his walls are hung with low- \&f level aerial ^H ^V 
photographs of industrial parks; low, faceless buildings ^H ^H WORLD 
scattered upon a pi 



lother famous river: the Euphrates. Th 
bisects tr 

, the world's atomic watc 



morning, Zifferero, dir 

by the waters of Babylon, this shade 

irs and weapons experts— 

qi parking lot— holds I 

of document; 



build a secret Bomb. Th 

- Project, has learned the 

n pushed — into the light. 

everal days they will be 

ngible proof of a clandestine 

n that had signed the treaty 



;g nuclear weapons, had gone far down the road to its first atomic bomb — and more, 
n were there no proof of a weapons program, his team is any- JP\ thing but busi- 
as usual. "We had full access to intelligence information," he says. \kp "Second, we 
had the possibility to enter whatever site we designated to Iraq. Some difficulties in the begin- 
ning, but now the mechanism has been established, they have accepted it." He pai — 
thinking perhaps of his *^ 44 detainees. "Finally, the backup of the Security Cou 
a lot of teeth now." \J Unstated is the fact that the Security Council r 
""~* "liiitary coalition force poised e 
In the old days, nobody talked much about t 
their good intentions by ratifying or shunning the 1 970 Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nucle- 
ar Weapons — a simple bargain in which the haves agreed to share nuclear technology with the By Carl A. 
have-nots, who in return swore not to pursue the acquisition of nuclear weapons. Then, to pre- Posey 





1 







elude any sloshing of peaceful 
knowhow of fissile material into a secret 
bomb program, the treaty's signato- 
ries — many gnawing a sovereign lip at 
the intrusion — submitted to a system of 
nuclear safeguard inspections, admin- 
istered by the IAEA. Somewhat diluted 
by the concessions needed to reach a 
global consensus, the apparatus was 
nevertheless given clout— on paper. In- 
spections could be called without no- 
tice in suspicious cases. Violations 
would be reported to the board of mem- 
ber nations governing the IAEA. Prob- 
lems that could not be solved there 
would be sent to the United Nations Se- 
curity Council. And then the Security 
Council would . . . well, no one knew 
what it would do; things had never got- 
ten that far, 

Instead, the machinery of verification 
operated with courtesy, even diffidence, 
treating saints and suspected sinners 
equally. In encounters as cordial as 
those between a venerable firm of au- 
ditors and old-money banks, inspectors 



verified that nations were doing what 
they said. The uranium in a reactor was 
of the type and quantity declared; the 
hot, fissionable contents of spent fuel 
elements had not been secretly re- 
placed with sand; the material declared 
to be at a given facility was really 
there. In the same polite fashion, inspec- 
tors visited reprocessing facilities, 
where plutonium (among other things) 
is reclaimed from spent uranium, and 
enrichment facilities, where uranium, nat- 
urally U-238 flavored with a tiny fraction 
of fissionable U-235, was rendered 
more fissile, Throughout, the safe- 
guards system focused on established 
thresholds, called significant quanti- 
ties — the amount of material that, dis- 
covered missing, would indicate a clan- 
destine weapons program. This thresh- 
old is set at 25 kilograms of fully en- 
riched — bomb grade — uranium, or 
eight kilograms of plutonium. 

The inspectors followed a narrow man- 
date. They could look only at what 
their hosts would show them; they 



could not roam, nor could they act on 
their suspicions — there was to be no rid- 
ing out after outlaws. In such weapons 
nations as the United States, the United 
Kingdom, and the Soviet Union, inspec- 
tors could visit reactors and other civil- 
ian facilities but were not shown weap- 
ons-related ones. In such nonsignato- 
ries as South Africa and India, inspec- 
tors could audit material that, because 
it originated in a signatory state, came 
under safeguards — and nothing else. In- 
dian and South African enrichment fa- 
cilities dropped from the safeguards 
scope when processing native uranium. 
Like the ritual wars of New Guinea 
tribes, such encounters were conduct- 
ed mainly to show that nobody need 
get hurt. 

Indeed, everyone wore their inten- 
tions where they could easily be seen. 
Three of the nuclear weapons states — 
the two superpowers and Britain— had 
signed the nonproliferation treaty. 
France, entranced with a small but po- 
tent force de frappe, did not, but par- 



COMMONWEALTH ROULETTE 



None of the republics that used to 
be the Soviet Union seems to want to 
be a nuclear power, even though 
some have nuclear weapons deployed 
on. their soil. At the same time, no repub- 
lic has said it is willing for Russia to 
have the region's only nuclear arsenal. 
Their agreement to disagree on nucte- ■ 
ar arms has produced a fragile, ambig- 
uous apparatus of central control. 
At issue are an estimated 27,000 nu- 

; -clear" warheads. Some 12,000 of 
these are strategic: bombs and the war- 
heads for land- and submarine- 
launched intercontinental ballistic mis- 
siles. The rest are the explosive parts 
of smaller, shorter-range tactical weap- 
ons — battlefield nukes. 
The pattern of strategic deployment 

■has created a strange and frightening 
anomaly: Suddenly, the world has 
four instant de facto nuclear-weapons 
states- — Russia, Belarus, Ukraine, and 
Kazakhstan — where. a few months ago. 
there, was only one. 

The good news is that most repub- 
lics lack the technical infrastructure to 

. keep, a nuclear arsenal operational-. For 
example, most of the republics do not. 
have the:mea'ns of keeping the elabo- 
rate electronics and volatile chemis- 
tries of ballistic-missile systems going. 
In- December, Soviet Major -General 

■Alexander Tsalko told a Brussels se- 

: ourity conference that maintenance 
problems were so severe that it was 
problematic whether those missiles 

44 OMNI 



could be used- by anyone. "In the 
West," said Tsalko, "you are con- 
cerned with who has their finger on the 
button/The greatest issue is not who 
can push the button but whether it 
will function at all." 

The bad news is that nothing is 
quite fixed; everything remains fluid, 
subject to sudden and unforeseeable 
change, often on the whim of a repub- 
lic's new leaders. In August 1991,, all 
nuclear weapons were restored to Rus- 
sia, which stepped into the role former- 
ly played by the Soviet Union. By 
December, the three nuclear-armed re- 
publics had decided not to let their gi- 
ant sister go it alone, weaponswise. Ka- 
zakhstan indicated that it planned to 
keep: its nuclear weapons as long as 
Russia had its own. Since Kazakhstan 
hosts the cosmodromes at Tyuratam 
and Baykonur and the weapons re- 
search (Star Wars included) facilities 
at Shary-Shagan, it certainly possess- " 
es the technical means of keeping 
that arsenal alive. 

At a year-end meeting in Minsk,, lead- 
ers of the 11 republics cobbled into; 
the Commonwealth of Independent 
States and created a single military. 
command for nuclear weapons— but 
only for nuclear weapons. There was 
little consensus, however, on exactly 
where nuclear weapons ended and 
conventional- ones began. To Russia, 
which wants both possession and con- ■ 
trol, the term means everything — 



bombs, aircraft, ships, missiles, the 
works. To Ukraine, nuclear weapons 
are nuclear explosives;, the army, air 
force, and navy, they argue, should : 
stay where they are. Despite these quib-. 
bles. on Christmas day, outgoing So- 
viet president Mikhail S, Gorbachev 
handed over control of alt nuclear. 
weapons to Russian president Boris ■ 
Yeltsin along with the so-called foot-- 
ball— a briefcase containing current- 
launching, codes. Yeltsin has authority- 
to use the full arsenal, but only in : con- 
sultation with the leaders of republics : 
where the weapons are deployed. 

Meanwhile, in the IAEA, Russia will : 
assume the former Soviet role as a 
weapons: state, pledged to fulfill Sovi- 
et obligations under the nonprolifer- 
ation treaty (NPT). Ukraine and Be- 
larus, both long-time members of the 
IAEA (and the United Nations), have 
signaled their intention -to jointhe NPT 
nations as nonweapons states, as 
have the. three Baltic states. The pre- 
sumption in Vienna seems to be that 
all the. republics will eventually sign on 
as nonweapons states as welt. 

Few think the present controls are 
as clearly defined as they should be, 
or afford anything like foolproof weap- 
ons control. Former Soviet foreign- min- 
ister Eduard Shevardnadze, for one, be- 
lieves the rest of the. world should wor- 
ry. "Go ahead and say," he told an ital- . 
ian newspaper reporter, "that I would 
be terrified."DQ : 



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TOURING 
THE JUNGLE 

BY TOM DWORETZKY 

I am up to my knees in squishy mud. li gurgles as I lift up 
my right leg; then it sucks from somewhere in Middle earth 
and pulls my rubber boot clean off. My left one is buried so 
solid that I can't hop to regain my balance; I lurch to the 
side, put my left foot down with an instant sense of doom. 
It slips down and down and I slap face-first into the muck. 
I figure at least it's clean dirt. 

Welcome to the jungle. 

I am a city slicker. Instead of toughing my way past the 
prostitutes and crack dealers on my block. 1 must now fig- 
ure out how to handle leaf-cutter ants the size of cigarette 

45 OMNI 



butts whose stings make your arm swell up like a hunk of 
thigh, and six-fool snakes able to kill oxen with a single 
bite, Then there are the plants coated with sap nasty enough 
for chemical warfare that lace you with painful welts when 
you carelessly brush them. 

Takes my mind off other troubles. For half a day now I 
haven't thought about much besides getting to the Rara Avis 
Waterfall Lodge in the wilds of northern Costa Rica. Be 
here now — or wind up like Kurtz (he dead). I have had to 
slow down and tune into the sounds and sights of the jun- 
gle—or get hurt. I'm liberated by the palpable danger of 
the immediate. I can see now that the jungle is just another 
bad neighborhood. But since I'm a journalist, you know, dan- 
ger is my business; I go where the story is; it's my job. 

However, I am not exactly working here in the middle of 
all this tooth and claw. Actually, I am supposed to be on 
vacation. But you could say that my vacation Is the story. 
I'm having a wilderness experience — and paying for it. 



"his prime 
example (opposite page) 
of a lower montane 
rain forest' in Costa Rica's north- 
west is home to a vast 
array of animal and plant life. 

Because the forest 
is at a higher elevation ( 1 ,950 

meters above sea 

level), it's dry, not swampy — 

a "cloud" forest. 



ihis delicate 
creature (below left) makes its 

home in the Monte Verde 
Cloud Forest Preserve in Costa 

Rica. Such protected 
preserves make up over 1 2 per- 
cent of the total area 
of this peaceful, democratic Cen- 
tral American country 
wedged between strife-torn 
Nicaragua and Panama. 




■hough 

nonvenomous, this rare 

Costa Rican snake, 

the annulated boa (above 

middle) can make 

plenty of trouble for its prey. It 

encircles its victims, 

mostly small mammals, 

then squeezes — 

forcing the breath and life 

out of them. 



Ihis arrow- 
poison frog (above right) 

makes its home in 

the wilderness of La Selva 

Biological Research 

Station in Costa Rica. The frog 

earned its name 

from the toxins produced 

on its skin. Natives' 

arrow tips dipped in it are 

most deadly. 



I'm doing what is known as ecotourism, and it might be 
the best — maybe the last — hope any of us civilized types 
have to put our dinero where our mouths are and go save 
a rain forest. It offers a meaningful alternative to a lot of preach- 
ing about the environment while the corporations and gov- 
ernments that represent us bottom-line the tropjcs out of ex- 
istence by forcing poor campesinos to slash and burn the 
jungle to pay their country's debts to U.S. banks and raise 
cattle for fast-food burger chains. 

Anyone who's been anywhere in the Third World will tell 
you that these farmers aren't getting rich destroying their 
forests — and that they would much rather not ruin them. But 
some sort of industry has to replace the ones that are now 
bungling the jungle. 

Enter two nondestructive ways to make a bundle in the 
jungle; ecotourism and a new type of selective farming that 
harvests plants and animals in the wilderness without de- 
stroying the ecosystem in the process. 



Amos Bien is one of a new breed of "ecopreneur" prac- 
ticing these methods in an effort to make the rain forest pay 
without destroying it. He founded Rara Avis S.A., a Costa 
Rican corporation which owns the Rara Avis Waterfall 
Lodge, a roughhewn mansion-like hotel in the midst of 3,000 
acres of unspoiled jungle. He hopes to make Rara Avis a 
model for such jungle use. When I spoke with Bien in San 
Jose, he summed up the situation as follows: "What we're 
up against is that here in Central America people cut down 
the forest to do subsistence farming— mostly grazing cat- 
tle. The net income in Costa Rica for that is between 30 and 
40 dollars an acre. It takes about S3, 000 a year here to sup- 
port a family of four. It's not a reasonable way to use this 
land in terms of the world, but they've got to do it. One rea- 
son: You can get bank credit for clearing land because it 
has a proven earning record even though income produc- 
tion in this way is terrible," 

It makes more sense to see if you can produce more 




■wo 

rhinoceros beetles {above 

left), perfect examples 

of Earth's most profuse insect 

order, eye each other 

cautiously — and prudently. 

Over 250,000 

distinct species live around the 

globe — everywhere 

except the oceans and near 

the poles. 



Ihe light- 
green, delicately transparent 

skin of this glass frog 
(above right) from Costa Rica 

provides clear protection 
from predators. A master of 

disguise, the frog 
blends subtly with the jungle's 

leafy, green foliage. 
Beside the frog: its next genera- 
tion of eggs. 



lazy, a two-toed sloth (below 

left) moves mostly at a 
leisurely pace — upside down. 

Its point of view may 
seem a bit odd, but sloths will 

turn the idea of sloth- 
fulness topsy-turvy if aroused. 

When attacked, 

they strike back swiftly and 

powerfully. 



ihis beetle 
(opposite page, bottom right) 

is really a different 
shade of the pale metals. It's a 

rare silver lamellicorn 
found in the Costa Rican rain 

forests. Its elytra — twin 

front wings — are waterproof, 

opaque, and hard. These 

provide protection from the 

elements. 



wtrange 
insects (below left) look like 
the best of William 
Burroughs' and Franz Kafka's 

worst nightmares. - 
They roost under leaf and lurk 

- underfoot beneath the 
dense foliage in the rain forest. 

Wise explorers look 
carefully before gripping or put- 
ting a foot down. 





Baking a 
walk on the wild side (above 

middle) is made easier at 
La Selva. The research facility 

blends the risks of the 

jungle with the relative safety 

of a park. Self-guided 

tours on well-marked and 

cleared paths permit 

exploration of undisturbed 

rain forest. 



ihe beetle 
{above right) is not only terres- 
trial—it's everywhere. 
Different species Can be found 

tunneling deep under- 
ground or dwelling in water. 

While most beetles are 

plant eaters, some survive by 

preying on other 

animals, and others live as 

parasites. 



than 30 dollars an acre per year not cutting the forest, 
which you can do in two ways. First, there's tourism. Bien 
started with a large piece of forest, but that took a lot of 
capital and good marketing. It can make a good income 
but it requires a big, sophisticated investor. 

There is another way to use the jungle, though, which Bi- 
en hopes to explore while Rara Avis is supported through 
tourism: selective seeding of commercial plants in the jun- 
gle. "The campesinos are land rich, cash poor, and have 
a labor surplus," he explains, "They have big families and 
tend to be underemployed. Here we can manage the for- 
est. We can tend individual plants and animals, which is a 
labor-intensive activity. This is something we don't know pre- 
cisely how to do yet because each forest has its own dis- 
tinct and unique products. For example, we discovered on 
our tract a plant, the dappled palm, previously found only 
in Panama, that had been harvested to extinction there be- 
cause of its popularity as an ornamental plant. This palm 
48 OMNI 



produces about 100 seeds per year, and there are only 15 
of them per hectare. I was offered 15 cents per seed by 
someone who wanted to set up a nursery, but refused, be- 
cause if we just collected them, they would become extinct 
in our forest and also would not create work for the local 
farmers. Instead, we plan to tend them in place, plant more 
of them in the midst of the jungle, and harvest them selec- 
tively. This approach is a model for using the natural re- 
sources of the jungle in a way that will leave a diverse for- 
est cover, even though it is no longer virgin. Like the palm, 
there are other plants that can be tended and judiciously 
harvested in this way, such as hardwoods, ferns, flowers, 
and medicinal plants, as well as animals." 

The trip to Rara Avis was a real adventure. First stop was 
Las Horquetas, about an hour north of San Jose, mostly over 
dirt roads. There, at the house of Roberto Villa Lobos, his 
wife, and two young children, I and my traveling compadres 
mounted sturdy little horses equipped with Western saddles 



for the four-hour ride up the mountainous trail. "What about 
the lack of road signs?" I asked. "Do not worry," Roberto 
assured us in Spanish. "The horses know the way to El Plas- 
tico. From there the four-wheel tractor will take you to 
Rara Avis," 

We rode down the main street, by the Triangle bar and 
the neat houses painted white with colorful trim, angled left 
down a fork in the road at the edge of town, and clopped 
by fields of cows and chicken yards until we reached a swift- 
ly moving stream about 25 yards wide. The shallowest ford 
still had the water slapping at the bellies of our mounts. We 
had to balance precariously with legs up by the pommels 
as the steeds stumbled slowly across the rocky bed. 

The road went on and on, as only it can when each mile 
is measured by a thousand sharp bumps as butt meets a 
country horse's sharp spine. To either side of the path, the 
land was cleared. In the distance, occasional clumps of 
tall rain -forest trees, like spots of hair on a bald man's 



head, offered their slim refuge to large crows which came 
to rest after circling in the hot tropic air above pastures sprin- 
kled with small groups of grazing cattle. In the far distance, 
off to either side of the trail, was the impenetrable curtain 
of the remaining jungle. 

We arrived at the first stop, El Plastico, in time for the mid- 
day meal, A ramshackle, one-story sprawl balanced on 
stilts in the middle of a vast cleared mountainside, it had 
been a jungle prison colony before Rara Avis began oper- 
ating it. Some travelers stay at Plastico (S45 per night, in- 
cluding meals). When we signed the guest book, I noticed 
that Hunter S. Thompson had been here just the month be- 
fore. "He rode up, looked around, ate, and went back all in 
the same day," one of our hosts told me. Plastico's first vis- 
itor? Noted physicist Murray Gell-Mann. 

From Plastico we rode the large open trailer hitched to 
the back of the four-wheel tractor the remaining two hours 
to the hotel. The road was a trench of sloppy mud laced 



crosswise with logs that crunched and 
slapped as the wheels pressed onto 
them. The going was slow and difficult; 
the tractor seemed to climb wheel over 
wheel, not roll, as the driver wrestled it 
up the mountain. Close on either side 
was the deep jungle. At one point we 
rounded a bend, and one of the men 
riding up front on the wheel fenders 
jumped back casually and started to 
laugh and point to the bank of the 
road. Stretched out its full six-foot 
length was a bushmaster — one of the 
world's deadliest snakes. The driver 
stopped while we took pictures of it 
from the trailer; the snake lay there ey- 
, ing us. 

Rara Avis Waterfall Lodge, the hotel, 
sits at the top of a steep clearing in the 
midst of dense jungle, it is a two-story 
structure of roughhewn, unvarnished 
planks with four double rooms and a 
large porch on its top floor. The rooms 
have no glass in their windows, which 
are permanently screened to keep out 
all but the smallest bugs. There is hot 
and cold running water and indoor toi- 
lets and showers, but no electricity. 
There is nothing quite as pleasant as a 
hot shower — albeit brief, for the water 
is heated by a small gas affair — after a 
hard day of travel, But it is odd to 
bathe by the light of hurricane lamps — 



the only source of illumination at night. 
Farther down the slope is a low-slung 
building that houses kitchen and din- 
ing room — open to the elements — and 
rooms for the small staff. 

For the next two days we explored 
the jungle, helped and protected in 
this activity by Rara Avis's naturalist 
guide, Nicholas Clarke— a slight, cheer.- 
ful, and knowledgeable Englishman. 

As we climbed through the tunnel- 
like paths he had macheted in the 
dense growth, he showed us animals 
and plants and explained how they 
live one off the other, how they wage 
their struggles for survival in a dense 
interwoven terrain of harsh combat and 
chemical warfare. 

Surprisingly, the jungle is not quiet at 
all, but rather raucous and loud with an 
incessant chatter of leaves and branch- 
es banging in the wind, of water drip- 
ping, of scurrying sounds in the waist- 
deep ground cover. The sunlight flick- 
ers constantly, too, making deep shad- 
ows and burning highlights crop up and 
disappear with kaleidoscopic uncertain- 
ty. It is at first impossible to see or 
hear anything clearly; it is so disori- 
enting that without Nick in the lead, I 
would surely have gotten as lost as if I 
had been on the arid, featureless plain 
of a vast desert. 



The days progress and we continue 
on exhausting morning and evening 
hikes that leave me drenched with 
sweat. He shows us the ways of the jun- 
gle: spiders with bodies the size of Ping- 
Pong balls under broad leaves, milli- 
pedes the size of a thumb. High over- 
head, monkeys chatter (they are very 
hard to see and fond of peeing down on 
interlopers). Tropical birds with bright, mul- 
ticolored beaks slice through openings in 
the canopy and vanish. 

In the midst of perpetual green still- 
ness that forces the heart to pound hyp- 
notically slow, a sudden flash of light in 
the corner of my vision, and there . . . 
now it's gone. Was that a monkey? A 
snake? A bird on that branch? That rus- 
tle coming out to take the melody from 
the mesmerizing drumming of clack 
and rumble — is that a wild pig or a fam- 
ily of pacas (which resemble giant guin- 
ea pigs)? Perception becomes a mind 
game lingering on the border of imagi- 
nation and reality, 

Do I want to see a monkey, or a 
snake? Then that rustle was one, and 
there, 50 feet up in the canopy, that 
dark spot, almost brown — that is a mon- 
key behind a branch. Binoculars may 
find it, sweat clouding the eyepieces, 
or may instead find a branch and noth- 
ing more. Stay here in the jungle long 




enough and Kurtz starts to look like a 
pretty rational guy. 

Before I leave for the tractor-horse ex- 
press back to Las Horquetas, I buy 
Nick a couple of cold beers (stored in 
the Watertall Lodge's gas-powered 
refrigerator), and we sit under the 
lhatch roof of the dining area, looking 
out while the anteater crosses the yard 
between the kitchen house and the 
main building. We both smell faintly of 
Avon cologne, reminiscent of a visit to 
grandmother's for a holiday. (The co- 
logne is very effective at keeping mosqui- 
toes and other bugs away in Ihe jun- 
gle—Avon won't officially acknowledge 
this because then the cologne would 
have to be approved for use by the 
FDA, but it's a known fact among vet- 
erans of the great outdoors.) About the 
Rara Avis experiment, Mick says, "For 
years big organizations like World Wild- 
life have talked about a new approach 
to conservation. This is different be- 
cause we're trying to make a go of it 
on a commercial level, and that's the on- 
ly level that a farmer will buy. Subsidiz- 
ing other ways are suspicious to the farm- 
ers because they know that if it's subsi- 
dized, then in a few years maybe the 
program will be canceled. Tourism is 
one approach, and it's pretty well un- 
derstood how to make a go of that. But 



Rara Avis is also a place to do research 
on how to collect valuable resources 
from the jungle on a sustainable basis 
and on how to market them success- 
fully. If we don't want farmers to clear 
the jungle and grow crops, then we 
have to develop the technical expertise 
to grow and harvest plants, like the dap- 
pled palm, in the jungle itself." 

Rara Avis was the second stop on 
my ecotour. First I had gone to visit 
David and Deborah Clark who codirect 
La Seiva Biological Station, an Organi- 
zation for Tropical Studies (OTS) re- 
search station that adjoins Braulio Car- 
riflo National Park, which runs north al- 
most to the Nicaraguan border. Tour- 
ists are welcome (for $76 each a night, 
including a multioccupancy room and 
three cafeteria- style meals) at the sta- 
tion, a collection of bunk houses and 
larger, low-slung buildings housing labs 
and a large dining and meeting room. 

Wandering the grounds you come 
across scientists who are absolutely 
mad about arcane subjects and are usu- 
ally happy to talk about them if politely 
asked. A stay in this place reminded me 
that education is the most profound 
form of entertainment and that almost 
nothing in the world is as pleasurable 
as talking with people who are really en- 
thusiastic about what they do. 




The station's two main goals are re- 
search and education. To this end, 
tours of dedicated biology students ar- 
rive throughout the season. But La Sel- 
va's educational mission is not just 
aimed at foreigners. "About one-third of 
our users are Costa Rjcan natives," 
says David Clark. Moreover, the station 
buys everything it can locally — from 
food to building supplies — and employs 
local people from nearby Puerto Viejo 
to cook, clean, build, and act as assis- 
tant guides. The latter job requires that 
they take a course about the area's 
ecology and history. In addition, the sta- 
tion hosts numerous influential foreign 
groups, such as members of Congress 
and their staffs, to educate them on the 
rain forest issue. Another teaching aim: 
Clark hopes soon to offer courses in pre- 
serve management. 

The beauty of turning tourism and ed- 
ucation into a jungle industry is, says 
Clark, that there are no negative sides. 
"Most development projects have neg- 
ative side effects, the way they are 
done now. But this way we bring in peo- 
ple and projects that have less impact 
on the local value system." 

Right now tourism is number two on 
the Costa Rican income list, aided in a 
big way by the aggressive way in 
which this tiny country has developed 
its extensive park system. The central 
government has set aside a total of 
about 12 percent of the country's terri- 
tory for national parks and equivalent 
reserves. (The U.S. has a bit more 
than 3.5 percent of its land in a nation- 
al park system by comparison.) But the 
park system, only 22 years old, has had 
to fight to exist— and its strict preserve 
mentality may be a hindrance as much 
as a help: Little effort is made to aid tour- 
ists to stay in the parks, especially 
since the park fee is only 70 cents, 
which must pay for patrolling against 
poachers and for innovative programs 
to encourage community involvement, 
for park rangers, and for education. 
Thus, the park system gets virtually no 
money from tourism. 

At the same time, Costa Rica is run- 
ning out of cuttable firewood and 
needs to plant nearly 15,000 hectares 
a year starting now. "There is a need 
to do things and get communities 
involved and get tourism now," says 
Clark. "This is the decade when the 
chicks come home to roost. We [in 
Costa Rica] have a debt crisis in 
spades . . . There's no more land, and 
the population is rising." 

I spent my last night at La Selva, af- 
ter a fine meal of black beans, rice, 
porkchops, salad, coffee, and cake for 
dessert, having fun with a group of biolo- 
gy grad students. We were all quite en- 



grossed, sitting on the wide veranda of 
the main dining building, while one of 
them, named Margaret, showed 
everyone the botfly she had allowed to 
gestate for three weeks — under the 
scalp, just by the part of her long, 
blond hair. "It only hurts when it moves' 
around — about once every 12 hours." 
She had let it go all this long so she 
could study it, she told me. That night, 
after we spoke, some gasoline 
finally drove the little bot from her 
top. When I left the next morning, I 
asked her how her mother would have 
fell about what she had done. "Oh 
fine," she laughed. "She's a tropical 
biologist, too." 

Crazy. But if you want a vacation 
that is active and a real adventure and 
at the same time lets your money work 
directly to save the rain forests, take a 
spin through Rara Avis or La Selva. 
(There are, of course, other such spots 
around the world.) As Amos Bien told 
me, "It's the real thing, being out here, 
not Disneyland. You're in the jungle 
and not on some ride. The experience 
isn't watered down — except that at 
Rara Avis, you have good beds and 
great food." DO 



CREDITS 
Page 4 top: Dan Adel; page 4 middle 
right: Alan Levenson; page 4 middle 
left: Pete Turner; page 4 bottom': 
Gregory Dimijian/Photo Researchers; 
page 6: Jeff Wheeler; page 8: Neelan 
Crawford; page 12: Gina Martine/Art & 
Editorial Resource; page 1 6: Tzaddi Hall/ 
Art & Editorial Resources; page 22: 
Peter Goin; page 18: Victor Hodge; 
page 24 top: The Learning Co.; page 
24 bottom: Davidson & Associates; 
page 31: Suzanne Tenner; page 32: 
Will & Deni Mc I nty re/Photo Research- 
ers; page 33 top: James Marsh; page 
33 bottom: Dan Morrill; page 34 top: Cur- 
tis Willocks/Stockphotos Inc.; page 34 
bottom: Eamonn McNulty/Photo Re- 
searchers; page 36 top: R. Rowan/Pho- 
to Researchers; page 36 bottom: Image 
Bank; page 38: Victor Hodge; page 42 
top: Pete Turner; pages 42-43: Mas- 
terfile; page 46: Gregory G. Dimijan/ 
Photo Researchers; page 47 right: 
Stephen J. Krasemann/Photo Research- 
ers; page 47 left: Gregory G. Dimijan/ 
Photo Researchers; page 47 middle: Gre- 
gory G. Dimijan/Photo Researchers; 
page 48 top right: Dr. Paul A. Zahl/ 
Photo Researchers; page 48 top leit: 
Gregory G. Dimijan/Photo Researchers; 
page 48 bottom right: Gary Reiherford/ 
Photo Researchers; page 48 bottom 
left: Gregory G. Dimijan/Photo Research- 
ers; page 49 right: Gregory G. Dimijan/ 
Photo Researchers; page 49 left; Ray 
Coleman/Photo Researchers; page 49 
middle: Renee Lynn. 




You always come back to the basics: Jij5*H: 



!Tn!V;t.:]irr;Crj..Cfer:iici!L.KV 



Aire 4 Informa- 

tion Age. Millions of-books anqHmages and- 
billions of bytes are at risk Irs' as if a copy 
oi the ancient Library oi Alexandria went up in 
smoke every day 

Preserving our informational past ana retaining 
the day-to-day bits arid nieces that keeo guy wohd 
working isn't easy. lie volume of new information 
added each year is staggering. At the same time, 
■'■old movies-andnew.- book's crumble; while, magnetic 
-•tape and c i ' i 

In a quest to 'out but trie fire— Ibe problem. of 
■ .bopk and paper -decay is often sailed the siow fire ■ ■ 
librarians. :'i!m curators, archivists, and data collec- 
. tors lo;ok for-new technologies to save what we al- 
\ ready-.have.and ensure 
the .longevity of. what 
we create. Cautious by 
virtue of their mission— 
they want tools that pro- 
tect -our material heri- 
■ 'tage. for '.centuries, not 
merely decades — the 
preservationists areturn- 
' ing'to proven process- 
es while- waiting for 
breakthroughs in every- 
thing 'from computers 
to chemicals.' 
WHAT'S MISSING. "Our 

■ whole cultural heritage^ 
is in danger:" says Ken Harris, director for pres- 

' ervation at the Library of Congress. "Anything re- 
corded on paper isjri danger of -being lost.'.' 
- Since the mid 180O'.s, when paper: makers be- 
gan coating their stock with- aluminum sulfate for 
crisper printing, books nave Morally crumbled into 
dust. Reacting with moisture, these chemicals cre- 
ate sui'lunc ac;d. which devours. the paper's mo- 
'ecular bonds ov&- time, in the Library of. Congress 

■ alone, 70,000. volumes are shifted n classification 
from weak to brk;ic ca^ year, becoming too del- 
icate to use without risking damage. Worldwide, I - 
praries hold a billion crumbling books. "The global 
orogression [of disintegrating books] is -alarming-," 
Harris says. ' . .■■ „ -,';■ : -« ; - T ' 

Motion pictures, the twentieth century's art iorm 
are in even greater peril. "It's-already happened," 
says Gregory' Lukow, deputy director o! the Nation- 
al Center for Film and Video Preservation at the Amer- 
ican Film Institute in Los Angeles. "Of the 21,000 
feature films made bof-orc i 950, half don't exist anv- 
more."'He ticks oft the other -Casualties: half of the 




television made in its Golden Age, 80-percent of '■ 
the movies from the 1920's, 95 percent of. the fi'-ms . 
made ;n the teens. All. gone.-:. ' -. -; ■ 

Decay cla-ms films as well as books. Until 1951 
movies were shot on nitrate slock, a flammable cel- 
luloid that virtually eats itself Color movies made 
from the mid t95Qs-.to the early 1980s quickly fade. ■ 
to a pale magenta, "lis beyond danger." says 
■LukOw. "V 

Higher uo the teehnoiogicai ladder things divr-. 
any-safer. Computer data, once thought inviolate, 
turns out to be. ephemeral instead. "You're always 
in danger, "-says- Ken Tbioodcau. direclor of the Cen- 
ter for Electronic Hecords at. the National Archives 
in Washington,- D.C, "Magnetic tape is very fragile: 
you can wipe it Out any 
number, of ways, "V ve. 
heard- from people who' ■ 
say they lose as much 
as 1 : 5- percent of their 
data annually/'. But the" 
Big Bang of informs- - 
tion made possible by 
computers isn't in jeop- 
ardy .simply because of ' 
defective tape. Unlike 
books, computer tech-, : 
nology-changes.some-..' 
times dramatically, al- 
ways "rapidly, WjftiV 
each leap in the under- 
lying technology, old' formats, are abandoned.- -Uh- -' ■ 
less' data is copied at each format change, 'it's -quick- ' 
ly irretrievable— the machines to read- that .infor- 
mation cease to exist. 

Everyone struggles against the ticking of Ihe 
clock. ."Right how, we're just buying time,"' sighs 
Gregory Lukow, 

THE PAPER CHASE It's ironic that newer- books 
fall aoart wine centuries-old manuscripts remain in- '-. 
tact. Acidic paper's the problem, but ihe solutioa. 
i§, less 'Clear. 

Coat paper with an airtight barrier/and.-you can' 
stop any decay, that's the tac* Nova Trar, a Wis- 
consin-based manufacturing exj-moany*" takes with 
parylyne, an inert polymer developed 35 years 3go ■ 
as a covering r or such things as pacemakers and 
nowu.sedto- harden parts'- for NASA's Shuule "It's 
not unlike mdlecula'r glue," says Bruce Humphrey, 
■ a .Conservation speciaiis; with the company. Pary- 
lyne can be spread in layers as thin, as 12 to 30 
microns— layers soiine that it's undetectable even 
to the touch. "' > ' 



ILLUSTRATION BY CLAYTON ANDERSON 



Applied to everything from 2,500- 
year-old Egyptian mummy hands at the 
Royal Ontario museum to costumes at 
DisneyWorld, parylyne has coated doc- 
uments ranging from nineteenth-centu- 
ry court records to fire-damaged 
books from the Soviet Academy of Sci- 
ences. It lasts virtually forever, "thou- 
sands of years under museum condi- 
tions," according to Humphrey. That's 
both a boon and a bane; Once 
slapped on it cannot be removed. "It lit- 
erally grows on surfaces, surrounds the 
individual cellulose fibers," Humphrey 
says. The Library of Congress is look- 
ing at parylyne as one high-tech, and 
high-priced, way to preserve paper. 

But with costs of $300 a book, pary- 
lyne won't solve the brittle-book prob- 
lem. Institutions like the Library of Con- 
gress must find a more affordable way 
to preserve vast numbers of volumes. 

Mass deacidification is one way to 
scale up preservation. The Library of 
Congress is in the final stages of a dec- 
ade-and-a-half search for a feasible 
chemical process that can handle 
huge numbers of books. "We're taking 
an assertive approach [on mass deacid- 
ification]," Ken Harris says. 

One notable technology pumps dieth- 
ylzinc (DEZ) gas into a chamber con- 
taining the item to be preserved. The 



gas neutralizes the acid in the paper, 
stops the rot, and protects the paper 
from further damage. A pilot plant in Tex- 
as can treat up to 40,000 books a 
year. Theoretically a working facility 
could process half a million books a 
year for as little as $6-$10 a book. 

Another way to beat the acid prob- 
lem is to simply do away with paper. "If 
we have a vision, the vision should be 
one of a method of mass transforma- 
tion of information to digital form," 
says Carl Fleischauer, coordinator of 
the Library of Congress's American Mem- 
ory project, an attempt to put everything 
from the eighteenth-century Congres- 
sional documents to thousands of Civil 
War photographs on optical discs. 
Text and photographs are digitized, 
placed on magnetic tape or on an opti- 
cal disc, and then read or viewed with 
a computer. Present optical-disc tech- 
nology, with plastic platters, isn't stable 
enough for archivists, but Chandru Sha- 
hani, a preservation research officer 
with the Library, is confident that 
things will improve, perhaps using 
glass or metallic discs. "The longevity 
can come," he says. "It may or may not 
be here today, but we can develop a 
stable optical disc. A lot of groundwork 
needs to be done, but it's one of the 
hopes of the future." 



But it's unlikely that the future will be 
completely paperless. "Traditional ob- 
jects, like books, will be around in sig- 
nificant quantities for our grandchil- 
dren," says Harris. "Certainly there will 
be a lot more electronic information, but 
I can't imagine libraries without walls in 
the next decade or two." 
NITRATE NIGHTMARES. "In many 
ways, films are the most fragile of me- 
dia," says Gregory Lukow of AFI. "You 
can make film last longer by storing it 
properly, but it begins to deteriorate the 
moment it comes out of the lab." 

The most common way to preserve 
older films is to transfer them to slow- 
fading, nonnitrate stock and then store 
them in climate-controlled environ- 
ments. But this low-tech technique is 
both costly and time-consuming. Mov- 
ing a color movie to safety stock costs 
anywhere from $50,000 to $100,000, 
and if the film needs to be restored or 
repaired before it's transferred, the 
price tag can top half a million dollars. 
Keeping prints and negatives in air- 
conditioned vaults is beyond the capa- 
bility of most public archives. 

Some studios, however, have invest- 
ed millions to safe-keep their prized pos- 
sessions. Paramount, for instance, 
stores its films in a 40,000-square-foot 
archive building on its lot and in a con- 





verted Pennsylvania limestone mine. 

Preserving television and video is 
even tougher. Videotape shows wear af- 
ter five years, sometimes less. And 
witn over 100 different video formats in 
the last 30 years, equipment obsoles- 
cence is a real problem. "When you 
talk about film, you talk about restoring 
film. With video, what you have to re- 
store is the equipment," Lukow says. 

Digital images, especially high-defi- 
nition digital images, may be one pos- 
sible future for moving pictures. Using 
sophisticated computers, films could be 
scanned, electronically repaired or re- 
constructed, and then saved to some 
sort of digital storage media. Turning 
film into bits and bytes sounds like a 
good idea — reproductions, no matter 
how far removed from the original, are 
identical to the original. Yet today's dig- 
ital technology has limits, not the least 
of which is its poor resolution when com- 
pared to film. But torn between a choice 
of HDTV-style (high-definition television- 
style) reproductions and no film at all, 
preservationists may pick the latter. 

At the Microelectronics and Comput- 
er Technology Corporation, a consorti- 
um funded by most of the computer 
industry's major players, work is pro- 
gressing on a holographic memory tech- 
60 OMNI 



nology that may be the answer by 1995. 
Two laser lights shine into a photorefrac- 
tive crystal to create a three-dimension- 
al pattern of light and dark areas, anal- 
ogous to the 1s and Os that represent 
data on a computer disk. A single la- 
ser light "reads" those patterns to re- 
trieve the digital information at an as- 
tounding speed. A crystal no larger 
than a fingernail can hold the equiva- 
lent of thousands of books. 

"We have designs that can hold a full- 
length movie in high-definition format," 
says Stephen Redfield, director of Op- 
tics and Computing at the Austin, Texas- 
based corporation. "A removable car- 
tridge no bigger than your palm can con- 
tain an entire motion picture." 

Holographic memory's speed is one 
of its best cards "It's a thousand times 
or more faster than a disk," says 
Redfield, because it has no moving 
parts, and it moves data as images, un- 
like magnetic media. But until holograph- 
ic memory proves its longevity, preser- 
vationists may be stuck with film, "The 
crystals are kind of a designer material 
in that we can change their chemical 
composition, but whether or not we can 
design one that will last a century, we 
don't know," says Redfield. 

"In the year 2000, we will still be work- 



ing on preserving our film heritage," 
Lukow says. "There will still be color fad- 
ing to stop; there will still be lots of vid- 
eo formats to deal with, to juggle and 
monitor and transfer to whatever is 
state of the art at the time. We'll still be 
buying time." 

THE VANISHING BITS. Computers run 
the world. They track financial trans- 
actions involving billions of dollars, cer- 
tify our existence with the government, 
and store the minutia of the past in thou- 
sands of feet of magnetic tape. 

They can also lose information. 

Tapes ot the 1960 U.S. Census be- 
came obsolete shortly after their crea- 
tion, and for years the data was incog- 
nito — there are only two machines in the 
world that can read the original tapes, 
and one of them is in the Smithsonian. 
Fortunately, the records were eventual- 
ly reclaimed and restored to a more mod- 
ern format. 

"You have a dual problem with com- 
puter data," says Ken Thibodeau of the 
National Archives. The media is not on- 
ly much more fragile, but technological 
changes often give you problems with- 
in three to five years." 

There's no simple solution to magnet- 
ic media's life span and no solution at 
ail to the quick turnover in hardware. 






"There's nothing on the market now 
that I would call an alternative media," 
Thibodeau says. "What we will proba^ 
bly move to is called square tape. I 
stores five times the characters pei 
inch as reel-to-reel tape, it's still mag- 
netic, and we know it's reliable. 
There's higher-density stuff, but it's nol 
stable. We wouldn't consider CD-ROM. 
for instance, because it's just not di 
ble." Citing examples of oxidizing plat- 
ters and data loss within three to four 
months, Thibodeau admits that larger- 
format optical discs may last as long as 
a century. "But there might not be a 
drive to read the information in a hun- 
dred years." 

In South Dakota, at the EROS (Earth 
Resources Observing Systems) Data 
Center, as much as 90 percent of the 
data obtained from Landsat earth ob- 
servation satellites before 1979 is inac- 
cessible because the computers and 
tape drives have long since hit the 
junk pile. And officials at the Center are 
anxious about the future, considering NA- 
SA's planned EOS (Earth Observing Sys- 
tem) satellites scheduled to fly later in 
the decade. Data will literally pour 
down the gravity well from the EOS plat- 
forms to the tune of an estimated trillion 
bytes of data every few days. "It just 



stretches my imagination," says Ron Par- 
sons, acting chief of computer services. 

Computer archivists like Ken Thi- 
bodeau are putting their trust in tech- 
nologies that haven't even made it out 
of the labs yet. "My real hope for the 
future is that there will be a solid-state 
media. It's basically a block of crystal 
able to store a terrabyte (a trillion 
bytes, or characters) of information. 
That's equal to about 100,000 reels of 
today's magnetic tape. You structure 
the crystal to store the data and only 
need to send currents along those crys- 
tals. There's nothing that moves." 

MCC's Holostore may be another 
way to compactly and reliably preserve 
vast amounts of computer data. "You're 
looking at hundreds of gigabytes in 
some of these configurations," says 
MCC's Stephen Redfield. "Holostore is 
as generic as magnetic storage and 
can encompass a variety of different me- 
dia," all of which may prove to be eas- 
ier to maintain for longer periods than 
computer tape or disks. 

Whether electronic information 
moves away from magnetic media is 
less important than what we'll be able 
to do with it, according to Ken Thi- 
bodeau. "Within ten years, we'll have a 
way to pull out specific data for what- 



ever purpose from any file, at least for 
data that currently exists. We'll be able 
to send that data over a network to link 
up with major educational and research 
settings. You may have to access it 
through an information broker, but that 
broker might be your local library. 
BANK THE FIRES. If information is our 
lifeblood, then we've bled far too long. 
Not only have we already lost huge 
tracts of our cultural heritage, but 
there's little chance we can save all we 
have now. "We're forced to make trade- 
offs every day, " notes Greg Lukow. 
Lack of money and lack of time guar- 
antee that some of what we have today 
will be gone tomorrow. 

Promising technologies, especially 
those that depend on computers and 
digital forms of information, hold out 
some hope. But the technologies play 
second to simple preservation."! worry 
that the production of new electronic in- 
formation has outplaced the ability of in- 
stitutions to properly archive it and pro- 
vide access to it," says Carl Fleischau- 
er of the American Memory project. "So 
let's focus on how a society maintains 
information. We have to have confi- 
dence in the administration of informa- 
tion rather than worry about the way 
it's stored." DO 

61 



IfUTERVieiAJ 



ROBERT BAKKER 

The hot-blooded paleontologist 

who revolutionized our vision of dinosaurs offers up some more 

"heresies" about daily life in the Jurassic 



PHOTOGRAPHS BY ALAN LEVENSON 



The man who made dinosaurs success- 
ful has taken time off from his PR cam- 
paign for the 215-million-year-old mon- 
sters to spend "quality time with the 
rocks." The particular rocks that have 
lured the controversial paleontologist, 
Robert Bakker, from the TV talk-show cir- 
cuit, consultations with museum curators, 
writing books, and designing robot dino- 
saurs, are those of the Morrison Forma- 
tion on the Colorado Front Range. 
Armed with the usual tools of his trade- 
chisel, thin glue, and plaster — and the not- 
so-usual Omni reporter, Bakker chips 
away at what was once a dry flood plain 
and is now a crumbly ledge of alkaline 
mudstone. He is extracting the cervical 
vertebra of a giant sauropod from "a 
strange death scene. The animal might 
have died a couple hundred yards that 
way, been chewed up, and then the 
next flood washed the bones over 
here," Bakker speculates. 

The Morrison, fossil territory that 
marks the Jurassic-Cretaceous boundary 
line around 140 million years ago, is the 
paleodetective's favorite formation. "May- 
be because one of my first bits of dino- 
saur heresy was to prove the Morrison fau- 
na was a dry-land fauna. That Brontosau- 
rus didn't live in the swamps!" exclaims 
Bakker in his booming voice. Much lat- 
er, Bakker admires the sculptural "giz- 
mos, geegaws, and chatchkas" of the gi- 
ant vertebra displayed on his kitchen ta- 
ble. "Is this a beautiful object or what?" 
he asks rhetorically. "Now I have to study 
this fossil, describe it, diagram ii, and pub- 
lish it, so that other people can under- 
stand it. It's "like . . . God has given me 
this vertebra, and I'm responsible for its 
future now." 

Bakker' s Divine Mission to reveal 
the truth about dinosaurs was in- 
spired by a 1955 Life magazine ar- 
ticle, "The World We Live In," 
which ironically depicted a tradition- 
al green brontosaur slogging 
through swamps. In a moment he 
now describes as "Saul's conver- 
sion on the road to Damascus," the | 
New Jersey ten-year-old resolved 
to devote his life to the extinct 
vertebrates. At the time, dino- 



TITLE: 

Adjunct Curator, 

University of Colorado Museum, 
Boulder 

BOOK WRITTEN: 

The Dinosaur Heresies 
(1986) 

QUOTE: 

"If you could mechanically 
hybridize an ostrich 

with a rhino, you'd have a quad- 
rupedal dinosaur." 

WHAT 

PALEONTOLOGY 

NEEDS: 

More amateurs 




saurs were sorely neglected by serious 
scientists because, according to 
Bakker, "They were evolutionary flops. Ev- 
erything about them was already 
known; they were slow, aquatic reptiles, 
of interest only to second graders." 

As a Yale student, Bakker spent 
nights rummaging through the drawers 
of the university's fossil collection, stu- 
dying the configuration of dinosaur 
bones. One evening, as he stared at the 
centrosaur in the Peabody Museum. 
mounted so that its rear legs stood up- 
right like an elephant's and front legs 
sprawled like a lizard's, he realized the 
mount was wrong. The bone and joint 
structure of a centrosaur's front end 
didn't spell sprawl. This revelation 
raised his growing suspicion that dino- 
saurs were not very lizardlike at all. 

In his first paper, 23-year-old Bakker 
posed a question that was to bring a dor- 
mant dinosaur paleontology back to life: 
"If dinosaurs were really slow-moving 
mountains of cold-blooded flesh, how did 
they manage to suppress speedy, warm- 
blooded mammals for millions of 
years?" He illustrated his radical new vi- 
sion with illustrations of the ancient be- 
hemoths thundering along at 40 miles per 
hour. Colleagues replied with skeptical 
"harrumphs." Bakker responded by grow- 
ing his hair into the ponytail he has nev- 
er cut, tossing his tie in the trash, and go- 
ing public with his prodinosaur theories. 
In a 1975 Scientific American article, 
Jne proclaimed,"Evidence suggests 
t that dinosaurs never died out 
k completely. One group still 
lives. We call them birds!" In 
i opposition to conventional 
. dogma, he declared dino- 
I saurstobe warm-blooded, 
i energetic creatures who 
regulated their own tem- 
peratures. As evidence, 
invoked the wide- 
spread locale of fossils 
, in chilly as well as semi- 
| tropical environments, 
microstructure of di- 
F nosaur bones, and the 
r strength and size of di- 
nosaur limbs. Tricera- 



44Anyone who understands the front end of a Chevy Suburban 

can understand how a 

dinosaur is put together if you tell him without jargon. 99 



tops, he showed, possessed the bi- 
omechanics! machinery to gallop as 
fast as the modern rhino. 

Throughout the next decade, Bakker 
extended his unorthodox ideas by study- 
ing metabolic rates of crocodiles. 
Fieldwork in Utah's Dinosaur Monument 
and research while a professor at Johns 
Hopkins provided him with important 
clues about how dinosaurs, and the 
plants they ate, evolved. In 15 expedi- 
tions, Bakker named two species of Ju- 
rassic dinosaurs and 1 1 species of early 
mammals. His sharp eyes also detected 
new dinosaurs among mislabeled muse- 
um fossils. 

Before these paleontology-shaking dis- 
coveries, however, Bakker had already 
shocked colleagues with a controversial 
book, The Dinosaur Heresies, illustrated 
with warm-blooded creatures lunging 
and bellowing, charging and courting. In 
a burgeoning Mesozoic market jammed 
with dinosaur boo-boo strips, triceratops- 
shaped cereal, dino-egg soap, and in- 
flatable plastic Stegosaurs, the book be- 
came a bestseller. Academic critics 
howled. Although professionals continue 
to protest his glib promotion of unproved 
theories, Bakker remains a favorite with 
extinct vertebrate fans. As consultant to 
Dinamation, a California company produc- 
ing exibits of robotic dinosaurs, and a lec- 
turer who commands thousands of dot 
lars a pop, he is impervious to peer re- 
view, or "smear review," as he terms neg- 
ative critiques. 

When Omni interviewer Vicki Lindner 
first encountered Bakker, he snatched 
away the "script," as he called a list of 
carefully researched questions he'd an- 
swered dozens of times before, and daz- 
zled her with a monologue on dinosaur 
science while sketching a muscle attach- 
ment to a sauropod spine, and throwing 
balls for his dog. "You've got to 
come up with a new angle," he told 
Lindner. "How about Are dinosaurs 
kosher?" Actually, the former 
street evangelist explained, "The 
law of Moses forbid the eating of 
reptiles because they crawled 
on their bellies. Maybe dinosau- 
rology fell into such doldrums i 
because dinosaurs weren't i 
kosher." 

Omni: You are the self-pro- JHI 
claimed enfan! terrible of 
dinosaurology. What in 
your background en- 
abled you to take an ad- 
versarial position? 

66 OMNI 



RECENT FINDS: 

Zofiabaatar 

("Mutant Ninja Chipmunk"); 

Foxraptor 

(tiny mammalian meat-eater); 

Uluops 

(neurologicalfy advanced turtle); 

Drinker 

(tiny dino). 

FAVORITE 
DINOSAUR: 

The one I'm digging up 

at the time. 
I really get into that one. 



TIME FAVORITE: 

Ceratosaurus 

But I don't know why, 

DINOSAUR HOT SPOT: 

China. 
It's an interesting piece of real 

estate because 
it has many habitats, basins. 




Bakker: Peering into peoples' psyches is 
rude! I mean, it's not what you do in a 
cowboy bar — "Howdy,, stranger; can I 
peer into your psyche?" You'd get 
punched out. But, anyway, here's a hy- 
pothesis, probably bogus, but a lot of fun. 
My maternal grandmother was from 
Friesland, the part of Holland where free- 
thinkers, antipapists, Jews, smugglers, 
and counterfeiters went and were 
hanged as criminals. The family agreed 
she was a little loony, but interesting. And 
more than once it's been said I take af- 
ter Grandma Meyer. 1 don't back down. 
Hey, you're supposed to ask, Why did 
you get married four times? 
Omni: I was saving that question until we 
got to know each other better. 
Bakker: Very simple: I needed the blend- 
ers. If you want a Cuisinart, a microwave, 
or a really good blender, you get married. 
These things cascade upon you. I've had 
some wonderful weddings. The first 
time I got married, it was the weekend 
we closed Yale down during the Bobby 
Seale trial. We couldn't get into the court- 
house to get the license because guys 
with machine guns wouldn't let us in. 
Omni: Does it take special instincts or 
scientific techniques to find important 
new ft 

Bakker: Technique schmechnique! The 
most important technique is picking up 
a fossil and looking at it carefully. Some 
can see shapes and others can't. It's not 
instinct; it's learning. That's why Jack 
Horner, curator of Paleontology at the Mu- 
seum of the Rockies, Bozeman, Montana, 
found the maiasaur nests in Montana, 
and Ivy League professors of four gen- 
erations who went near that area did not. 
They didn't have the field smarts to read 
the rocks, to know what type of fossils 
occur in what color and texture of 
rock. You go over the docu- 
i ments again and again until you 
! the patterns. Sometimes 
you can explain what you 
find; sometimes you can't. 
Freaky things happen. 
Once my whole crew 
was digging at a huge 
.quarry where we knew 
I there had to be fossils. 
Dig, dig, dig; nobody 
' found anything. I'd 
' come by and look on the 
Fground and there'd be a com- 
rplete jaw. another, and anoth- 
er. They thought I belonged to 
i secret religion! Another time 
my wife Constance and I were 
i the Wyoming Big Horns 

CONTINUED ON PAGE 90 



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ase dales 
51 , 9 am to 



"Dead Mem Camt Play Ja//." 

"That's the truth I learned last night at the world premiere performance 
of the quartet known as Afterlife at Manhattan's- Village Vanguard. 

"Whether or not they can play, period, that's another matter, but it wasn't 
jazz I heard at the Vanguard, it was something bluer and colder, something 
with notes made from centuries-old Arctic ice and stones that never saw the 
light of day, something uncoiling after a long black sleep and tasting dirt in its 
mouth, something that wasn't the product of creative impulse but of need. 

A LITTLE MIGKT MUSIC 



Fictiom By Lucius Sherard 




Illustrations By Damiel Adel 



"But the bottom line is, it was worth hearing. 

"As to the morality involved, well, I'll leave that up to 
you, because that's the real bottom line, isn't it, music 
lovers? Do you like, it enough and will you pay enough 
to keep the- question of morality a hot topic on the Dona- 
hue show, and out of the courts? Those of you who. lis- 
tened to the simulcast over WBAI have probably already 
formulated an opinion. The rest of you will have to wait 
for the CD. 

"I won'l waste your time by talking about the technol- 
ogy. If you don't understand it by now, after all the televi- 
sion specials and the (ohmygodpleasenotanother) in- 
depth discussions between your local blow-dried news 
creep and their pet science-fiction hack, you must not 
Want to understand it. Nor am I going to wax profound 
and speculate on just how much of a man is left after re- 
animation. The only ones who know that aren't able to 
tell us, because it seems the speech center just doesn't 
thrive on narcosis. Nor does any fraction of sensibility 
that cares to communicate itself. In fact, very little seems 
to thrive' on narcosis aside from the desire ... no, like I 
said, the need to play music. 

"And for reasons that God or someone only knows, the 
ability to play music where 
none existed before. 

"That may be hard to swal- 
low, I realize, but I'm here to 
tell you, no matter how 
weird it sounds', it appears to 
be true. 

"For the first time in mem- 
ory, there was a curtain 
across the Vanguard's 
stage. I suppose there's 
some awkwardness involved 
in bringing the musicians 
out. Before the curtain was 
opened, William Dexter, the 
genius-. behind this whole 
deal, a. little bald man with a 
hearing aid in each ear and 
the affable, simple face of 
someone who kids call by 
his first name, came out and 
said a few words about the need for drastic solutions to 
the problems oi war and pollution, for a redefinition of our 
goals and values. Things could not go on as they had 
been. The words seemed somewhat out of context, 
though they're always- nice to hear. Finally he introduced 
the quartet. As introductions go, this was a telegram. 

" The music you'reabout to hear,' William Dexter said 
flatly, without the least hint of hype or hyperventilation, 'is 
going to change your lives.' 

"And there they were. 

"Right on the same stage where Coitrane turned a 
love supreme intosong, where Miles singed us with the 
hateful beauty of needles and knives and Watts on fire, 
where Mingus went crazy in 7/4 time, where Ornette 
made Kansas City R & B into the art of noise, and a thou- 
sand lesser geniuses dreamed and almost died and 
were changed before bur eyes from men into moments 
so powerful that guys like me can make a living writing 
about them for people like you who just want to hear that 
what they felt when they were listening was real. 

"Two white men, one black, one Hispanic, the racial 
quota of an ali-American TV show, marooned on a radi- 
ant island painted by a blue-white spot. All wearing sun- 
glasses. 

70 OMNI 







think. 

"Wonder if they'll get a commercial. 
"The piano player was young and skinny, just a kid, 
with the long brown hair of a' rock star and sunglasses 
that held gleams as shiny and cold as the black surface 
of his Baldwin. The. Hispanic guy oh bass couldn't have 
been more than eighteen, and'the horn player, the black 
man, he was about twenty-five, the oldest. The drummer, 
a shadow with a crew cut and a pale brow, 1 couldn't see 
him clearly but I 'could tell he was young, too: 
"Too young, you'd think, to have much to say... 
"But then maybe time goes by more slowly and wis- 
dom accretes with every measure ... in the afterlife. 

"No apparent signal passed betweenthem, yet as one 
they began to play." 

Goodrick reached tor his tape recorder, thinking he 
should listen to the set again before getting into the mu- 
sic, but then he realized that another listen was unnec- 
essary — he could still hear every blessed note. The ocean 
of dark chords on the piano opening over a snaky, slith- 
ering hiss of cymbals and a cluttered rumble plucked 
from the double bass, and then that sinuous alto line, 
like snake-charmer music rising out of a storm of thun- 
derheads and scuttling 
claws, all fusing- into a signa- 
ture as plaintive and familiar 
and elusive as a muezzin's 
call. Christ, it stuck with you 
like a jingle for Burger 
King . . . though nothing 
about it was simple. It 
seemed to have the freedom 
of jazz, yet at the same time 
it had the feel of heavy, ritu- 



Weird.shii. 

And il Sure as hell stuck 
with you. 

He got up from the desk, 
grabbed his drink and' 
walked over to the window. 
The nearby buildings or- 
dered the til.!';.. :■■■, I...H .-.'i 
tombstones inscribed with a 
writing of rectangular stars, geometric constellations, and 
linear rivers of light below, flowing along consecutive 
chasms through the high country of Manhattan. Usually 
the view soothed him and turned his thoughts to pleasur- 
able agendas, as if height itself were a form Of assurance, 
an emblematic potency that freed you from anxiety. But 
tonight he remained unaffected. The sky and the city 
seemed to have lost their scope and grandeur, to have 
become merely an adjunct to his living roo-":. 

He cast about the apartment, looking for the Clock. 
Couldn't locate it for a second among a chaos of- sticks- 
of gleaming chrome, shining black floors, framed prints, 
and the black plush coffins of the sofas. He'd never put 
it together before, but the place looked like a cross be- 
tween a- Nautilus gym and a goddamn mortuary. Rach- 
el's taste could use a little modification. 
Two-thirty a.m. . . . Damn! 
Where the hell was she? 

She usually gave him time alone after a show to write 
his column. Went and had a drink with friends. 
Three hours, though. 

Maybe she'd found a special friend. Maybe that was 
the reason she had missed the show tonight. If that was. 
the case, she'd been with the bastard for . . . what? Al- 



most seven hours now. Screwing her brains out in some 
midtown hotel. 

Bitch! He'd settle her hash when she got home. ■ 
Whoa,. big fella, he said to- himself. Get real. Rachel 
would.be much cooler than thai . . . make that, had 
been much cooler. Her affairs were stale of the art, so 
quietly and elegantly handled that he had been able to 
perfect denial. This wasn't her style. And even if she 
were to throw ii in his face, he wouldn't do a thing to-her. 
Oh, he'd want to; he'd want to bash her goddamned 
head in. But he would just- sit there and smile and buy 
her bullshit explanation-, 

1. eve. he guessed you'd. call it, the kind of love that will 
accept any insult, any injury . . . though it might be 
more accurate to call it pussywhipped. There were times 
he- didn't think he could take it anymore, times— like raw— 
when his head felt full of lightning, on the verge of ex- 
ploding and setting everything around him on fire, But he 
always managed to contain his anger and swallow his 
pride, to grin and bear it,, to settle for the specious cur- 
rency- of her lovemaking, the price she paid to live high 
and do what she wanted, 

Jesus, he felt strange. Too many pops at ihe Vanguard, 
that was, likely the problem-. 
But maybe he was coming 
down with something. 

He laughed. 

Like maybe middle age? 
Like the married- to-a-ch'ick- 
f i f teen - y ear s -y o u n g e r -p a ra- 
noid flu? 

Still, he had fell better in 
his time. No real symptoms, 
just out of sorts., sluggish, 
dulled, some trouble con- 
centrating. 

Finish the. column, he 
said to himself; just finish ihe 
damn thing, take two aspirin, 
and fall out. Deal with Rach- 
el in the morning, 

Right. 

Deal with her. 

Bring her breakfast in 
bed, ask how she was fe 
later? 

God, he loved her! 

Loves her not. Loves. Loves her not. 

He tore off a last menta! petal and tossed, the stem 
away. Then he returned lo the desk and typed. a few 
lines about the music onto the computer and sat consid- 
ering the screen. After a moment he began to type again. 

"Plenty of blind- men have played the Vanguard, and- 
plenty of men have played there who've had other rea- 
sons to hide their eyes, working behind some miracle of 
modern chemistry that made them sehsiiive-.to light. I've 1 
never wanted to see their eyes— -the fact that they were 
hidden told me all I need to know about them. But to- 
night I wanted to see, I wanted- to. know what the quartet 
was seeing, what lay behind those sunglasses starred 
from the white spot. Shadows, it's said. But what sort of 
shadows? Shades of gray, like dogs see? Are we shad- 
ows to them, or do they see shadows where we see 
none? I thought if 1 could look into their eyes, I'd under- 
stand what caused the alto to sound like a reedy alarm 
being given against a crawl of background radiation, why 
one moment it conjured images of static red flashes amid 
black mountains moving, and the next brought to mind a 



iling, and what was she doing 



tivid blue streak pulsing in a serene darkness, a mineral 
■moon in a granite' sky. 

"Despite the compelling quality of the music, I 
couldn't set aside my curiosity and simply listen. What was 
I listening to, after all? A clever parlor trick? Sleight of 
hand on a metaphysical level? Were these guys really play- 
ing Death's Top Forty, or had Mr. William Dexter managed 
to chump the whole world and program four stiffs to 
make certain muscular reactions to subliminal stimuli?" 
The funny thing was, Goodrick thought, now he 
couldn't stop listening to the damn music. In fact, certain 
phrases were becoming so insistent, circling round and 
round- inside his head, he was having difficulty thinking 
rationally. 

He switched the radio on, wanting to hear something 
else, to get a perspective on the column. 
Mo chance. 

Afterlife was playing on the radio, too. 
He was stunned, imagining some bizarre Twilight 
Zone circumstance, bui then realized that the radio was 
tuned to WBA1. They must be replaying the simulcast. Pret- 
ty unusual for them to devote so much air to one story. 
Still, it wasn't everyday the dead came back to life and 
played song stylings for 
your listening pleasure. 

He recognized the pas- 
sage. They must have just 
started the replay. Shit, the 
boys hadn't even gotten 
warmed up yet. 
Heh, heh. 

He followed the serpen- 
tine track of the alto cut- 
ting across the rumble and 
cluster of the chords and fills 
behind it, a bright ribbon 
of sound etched through 
thunder and power and 
darkness. 

A moment later he looked 
at the clock and was startled 
to discover that the moment 
had lasted twenty minutes. 
Well, so he was a little 
spaced; so what? He was entitled. He'd had a hard 
wife . . . life. Wife. The knifing word he'd wed, the dull 
flesh, the syrupy blood, the pouty breasts, the painted 
face he'd thought was pretty. The dead music woman, 
the woman whose voice caused cancer, whose kisses 
left damp mildewed stains, whose. . . . 

His heart beat flabbily, his hands were cramped, his 
fingertips were numb, and his thoughts were a whining, 
glowing crack opening in a smoky sky like slow lightning. 
Feeling a dark red emotion too contemplative to be an- 
ger, he typed a single paragraph and then stopped to 
read what he had written. 

"The thing abou! this music is, it just feels right. It's not 
art, it's not beauty; it's a meter reading on the state of the 
soul, of the world., it's the bottom line of all time, a regis- . 
tering of creepy fundamentals, the rendering into music 
of the. crummiest truth, the statement of some meager fi- 
nal tolerance, a universal alpha wave, God's EKG, the 
least possible music, the absoluie minimum of sound, all 
that's left to say, to be, for them, for us . . . maybe that's 
why it feels so damn right. It creates an option to suicide, 
a place where there is no great trouble, only a trickle of 
blood through stony flesh and the- crackle of a base elec- 
tric message across ihe brain." 




Well, he thought, now there's a 
waste of a paragraph. Put that into the 
column, and he'd be looking for work 
with a weekly shopping guide. 

He essayed a laugh and produced 
a gulping noise. Damn, he felt lousy. 

Not lousy, really, just . . . just sort of 
nothing. Like there was nothing in his 
head except the music. Music and 
black dead air. Dead. life. 

Dead love. He typed a few more 
lines. 

"Maybe Dexter was right, maybe 
this music will change your life. It sure 
as hell seems to have changed mine. 
I feel like shit, my lady's out with some 
dirtball lowlife and all I can muster by 
way of a reaction is mild pique. I 
mean, maybe the effect of Afterlife's mu- 
sic is to reduce the emotional volatility 
of our kind, to diminish us to the level 
of the stiffs who play it. That might ex- 
plain Dexter's peace -and- love rap. Peo- 
ple who feel like I do wouldn't have the 
energy for war, for polluting, for much 
of anything. They'd probably sit around 
most of the time, trying to think some- 
thing, hoping for food to walk in the 
door. . . ." 

Jesus, what if the music actually did 
buzz you like that? Tripped some chem- 
ical switch and slowly shut you down, 
brain cell by brain cell, until you were 
about three degrees below normal and 
as lively as a hibernating bear. What If 
that were true, and right this second it 
was being broadcast all over hell on 
WBAI? This is crazy, man, he told him- 
selt, this is truly whacko. 

But what if Dexter's hearing aids had 
been ear plugs, what if the son of a 
bitch hadn't listened to the music him- 
self? What if he knew how the music 
would affect the audience, what if he 
was after turning half of everybody into 
zombies all in the name of a better 
world? And what would be so wrong 
with that? 

Not a thing. Cleaner air, less war, 
more food to go around . . . just stack 
the dim bulbs in warehouses and let 
them vegetate, while everyone else 
cleaned up the mess. 

Not a thing wrong with it ... as 
long as you weren't in the halt that had 
listened to the music. 

The light was beginning to hurt his 
eyes. He switched off the lamp and sat 
in the darkness, staring at the glowing 
screen. He glanced out the window. 
Since last he'd looked, it appeared 
that about three-quarters of the lights 
in the adjoining buildings had been dark- 
ened, making it appear that the remain- 
ing lights were some sort of weird 
code, spelling out a message of gold- 
en squares against a black page. He 
had a crawly feeling along his spine, 

74 OMNI 



imagining thousands of other Manhat- 
tan nighthawks growing slow and cold 
and sensitive to light, sitting in their 
dark rooms, while a whining alto serpent 
stung them in the brain. 

The idea was ludicrous — Dexter had 
just been shooting off his mouth, firing 
off more white liberal bullshit. Still, 
Goodrick didn't feel much like laughing. 

Maybe, he thought, he should call 
the police . . . call someone. 

But then he'd have to get up, dial the 
phone, talk, and it was so much more 
pleasant just to sit here and listen to the 
background static of the universe, to 
the sad song of a next-to-nothing life. 

He remembered how peaceful After- 
life had been, the piano man's pale 
hands flowing over the keys, like white 
animals gliding, making a rippling 
track, and the horn man's eyes rolled 
up, showing all white under the sunglass- 
es, turned inward toward some pacific 



iWhat if 
the music actually did 

buzz you 

like that? Tripped some 

chemical 

switch and shut you 

down, brain 
cell by brain cell.? 



vision, and the bass man, fingers blur- 
ring on the strings, but his head fallen 
back, gaping, his eyes on the ceiling, 
as if keeping track of the stars. 

This was really happening, he 
thought; he believed it, yet he couldn't 
rouse himself to panic. "His hands 
flexed on the arms of the chair, and he 
swallowed, and he listened. More 
lights were switched off in the adjoin- 
ing towers. This was really fucking 
happening . . . and he wasn't afraid. 
As a matter of fact, he was beginning 
to enjoy the feeling. Like a little vaca- 
tion. Just turn down the volume and re- 
sponse, sit back and let the ol' brain 
start to mellow like aging cheese. 

Wonder what Rachel would say? 

Why, she'd be delightedl She 
hadn't heard the music, after all, and 
she'd be happy as a goddamn clam to 
be one of the quick, to have him sit 
there and fester while she brought over 
strangers and let them pork her on the 
living-room carpet. I mean, he wouldn't 
have any objeciior, nghi? Maybe dead 
guys liked to watch. Maybe .... His 



hands started itching, smudged with 
city dirt. He decided that he had to 
wash them. 

With a' mighty effort, feeling like he 
weighed five hundred pounds, he 
heaved up to his feet and shuffled to- 
ward the bathroom. It topk him what 
seemed a couple of minutes to reach 
it, to fumble for the wall switch and 
flick it on. The light almost blinded him, 
and he reeled back against the wall, 
shading his eyes. Glints and gleams 
shattering off porcelain, chrome fixtures, 
and tiles, a shrapnel of light blowing to- 
ward his retinas. "Aw, Jesus," he said. 
"Jesus!" Then he caught sight of him- 
self in the mirror. Pasty skin, liverish, too- 
red lips, bruised-looking circles around 
his eyes. Mr. Zombie. 

He managed to look away. 

He turned on the faucet. Music ran 
out along with the bright water, and 
when he stuck his hands under the 
flow, he couldn't feel the cold water, 
just the gloomy notation spidering 
across his skin. 

He jerked his hands back and 
stared at them/watched them dripping 
glittering bits of alto and drum, bass 
and piano. After a moment he 
switched off the light and stood in the 
cool, blessed dark, listening to the alto 
playing in the distance, luring his 
thoughts down and down into a gold- 
en crooked tunnel leading nowhere. 

One thing ha had to admit: Having 
your vitality turned down to the bottom 
notch gave you perspective on the 
whole vital world. Take Rachel, now. 
She'd come in any minute, all bright 
and smiling, switching her ass, she'd 
toss her purse and coat somewhere, 
give him a perky kiss, ask how the col- 
umn was going . . . and all the while 
her sexual engine would be cooling, tick- 
ing away the last degrees of heat like 
how a car engine ticks in the silence of 
a garage, some vile juice leaking from 
her. He could see it clearly, the entire 
spectrum of her deceit, see it without 
feeling either helpless rage or frustra- 
tion, but rather registering it as an un- 
tenable state of affairs. Something 
would have to be done. That was obvi- 
ous. It was surprising he'd never come 
to that conclusion before ... or may- 
be not so surprising. He'd been too ag- 
itated, too emotional. Now . . . now 
change was possible. He would have 
to talk to Rachel, to work things out dif- 
ferently. Actually, he thought, a talk 
wouldn't be necessary. Just a little lis- 
tening experience, and she'd get with 
the program. 

He hated to leave the soothing dark- 
ness of the bathroom, but he felt he 
should finish the column . . . just to tie 
up loose ends. He went back into the 



NUCLEAR 



..X'Niirv./j.iihOr,' ■■-i.CF ■!■■ 



ticipated in a limited way in IAEA safe- 
guards. China likewise remained out- 
side the treaty. The armed five have not 
changed, but their arsenals have. "In 
1 946," recalls a Soviet expert somewhat 
wistfully, "the U.S. had only three atom 
bombs. There was no mention of a hy- 
drogen bomb. Now the five of us may 
be reaching 100,000 warheads. The 
whole history is one of proliferation." 

Watching this exponential rise in 
weaponry, it surprised no one that In- 
dia, perhaps annoyed by China's great- 
er status, stayed away from a treaty 
that seemed to penalize developing na- 
tions. Nor was anyone surprised when 
India detonated its first (and, evident- 
ly, only) nuclear device in 1974. 

Other nontreaty nations also 
seemed to want a bomb of their own. 
Israel was viewed as an able contend- 
er, suspected of fashioning a last-resort 
deterrent with the heip of American sym- 
pathizers in the nuclear industry. 
South Africa, increasingly outcast, de- 
veloped a high-tech process to enrich 
uranium and was believed to have em- 
barked upon a secret weapons pro- 
gram — although the world wondered 
who the enemy could be. Envy pro- 
pelled the other suspects. Pakistan 
could not rest while India had nuclear 
superiority. Taiwan tossed and turned, 
thinking bitterly of China's large, but 
mainly defensive, arsenal. Brazil and Ar- 
gentina, which have never ignited their 
mutual dislike in a war, appeared to be 
in competition to have the first Latin 
American nuke. Libya, always in the mar- 
ket for new ways to destroy others, was 
on the bad list. And there was oil-rich 
Iraq, suspicious but also redeemed — 
for eight years the enemy of our ene- 
my, Iran. 

Much has changed. Safeguards in- 
spectors roam Iraq today with no more 
courtesy than a pack of junkyard 
dogs, backed by a toothsome Security 
Council almost pathologically willing to 
go back to war over the issue of atom- 
ic weapons — in Iraq. Old players have 
moved up in the queue, promoted 
from merely suspicious to heavily 
armed. Others have abandoned their 
budding weapons programs. Roles 
have reversed, new players have 
come swaggering on stage, and others 
have found Jesus, atomically speaking. 

Nothing has altered more fundamen- 
tally, however, than the bomb itself — 
the way it is perceived. Only a year or 
two ago, nuclear weapons stood omi- 
nously at the very center of human af- 
fairs. Now, incredibly, it is possible for 

76 OMNI 



experts to speak of them as a poor 
man's weapon of terror, fossil technol- 
ogy—as irrelevant. 

Kosta Tsipis, the Greek-born physi- 
cist who directs Massachusetts Institute 
of Technology's Program in Science 
and Technology for International Secu- 
rity, is among the most emphatically 
dismissive. "By the end of the century," 
he says, "nuclear weapons will begin 
to become benignly neglected. Those 
who have them will have them, but 
there will be no new delivery systems 
There will still be silos and submarines, 
but they won't be important." Tsipis is 
in his fifties, a tall, cranelike man with 
a shock of thick, gray hair and an angu- 
lar face in which there remains a droll 
trace of the boy. "The nuclear thing is 
an anachronism," he says. "It's silly." 

A Soviet official in Vienna, speaking 
frankly over the ubiquitous decanters of 
coffee and mineral water, echoes 



^Taiwan tossed 
and turned, thinking 

bitterly of 
China's large arsenal. 

Brazil and 

Argentina seemed to 

compete for 

Latin America's first nuke. 9 



Tsipis. Nearing retirement, he has 
seen it all, and yet, as with many for- 
mer Soviets — "I don't know what you 
should call us at the moment," he 
laughs — he sees the world with fresh 
and unambiguously democratic eyes. 
"Take the entire history of nonprolifera- 
tion," he muses, choosing his American- 
flavored English with care. "Both super- 
powers have not given enough priority 
to this; it was always a second-class sub- 
ject." The two sides, he says, had oth- 
er priorities. "The United States helping 
Pakistan, the Soviet Union playing with 
India to counterbalance China." A 
pause. "Nuclear nonproliferation has 
been on the margin. Each summit is- 
sued statements, but no one really un- 
derstands that nuclear nonproliferation 
is the nuclear problem." And yet, he 
feels, the bomb itself will become in- 
creasingly irrelevant to the human situ- 
ation. "In all the wars since World War 
II, there was a widespread recognition 
of the uselessness of nuclear weapons. 
It became .a nonweapon on August 6, 
1945" — the date of the Hiroshima bomb. 



To others, however, nothing has 
changed but the size and nationality of 
the nuclear shadow looming over human- 
kind, among them Gary Milhollin, the 
slender, confident law professor who di- 
rects the Wisconsin Project on Nuclear 
Arms Control, headquartered in Wash- 
ington, D.C. "Our theory," Milhollin ex- 
plains, "is unless there is public expo- 
sure of nuclear deals, they will contin- 
ue to happen. Dangerous nuclear 
deals. Transparency is the best defense 
to the spread of bombs. We learned in 
the Gulf War that conventional weapons 
are the leading edge. Nuclear bombs 
have become low tech." According to 
Milhollin, people who are thinking 
about wars will want smart weapons. 
"Terrorists will want nuclear bombs. 
They are attractive to people who want 
to inflict harm indiscriminately, the mili- 
tary pygmies," he says — some of them 
muscular pygmies like Iraq. 

That desert dictatorship is the past 
and chilling present of clandestine 
bomb making — and also the herald for 
what lies ahead, In this wealthy, deter- 
mined, seemingly irrational country, one 
discovers the profile of the true nucle- 
ar outlaw. Iraq's nuclear weapons am- 
bitions were said to have been extin- 
guished by Operation Desert Storm. 
And there, but for the convenient sur- 
facing of a knowledgeable defector, the 
matter might have rested. Instead, guid- 
ed by the defector's information, inspec- 
tors discovered that Iraq had spent a 
decade and a few billion dollars pursu- 
ing a broad, brilliant nuclear weapons 
program. "They managed to fool every- 
body," says Leslie Thome, a recently re- 
tired senior safeguards man recalled to 
Vienna to lead inspection teams into the 
desert. The quiet Northumberlander is 
not a confrontational man and has not 
become a household word. But he has 
spent a good deal of time in Iraq, be- 
fore and since the war, and knows the 
territory and its people intimately. "We 
don't underestimate them," he says. 
"We've met these guys; the nuclear peo- 
ple are very good, well qualified, and 
they can think originally." 

How far were the Iraqis from a 
bomb? Estimates vary. Tsipis maintains 
they were still a decade away. Ziffere- 
ro thinks that time had about run out. 
"Not enough fissile material," he says, 
"but rather advanced in so-called weap- 
onization technology. You can study 
how to make a weapon without having 
fissile material. Studies of metals, implo- 
sions, high explosives . . . they were 
rather advanced in this kind of technol- 
ogy. As soon as they could obtain fis- 
sile materials, they would immediately 
have been able to assemble a weap- 
on," A true nuclear arsenal — and a 



means of delivering it — appears to 
have been several years in the future. 

What is not generally appreciated is 
that, in terms of its participation in the 
nonproliferation pact, Iraq did little that 
was wrong. "Iraq's only noncompli- . 
ance," says Jon Jennekens, the 
IAEA's Canadian deputy director-gen- 
eral for safeguards, "was its failure to 
declare the enrichment program. It al- 
so did not declare that it was irradiat- 
ing uranium to produce plutonium."The 
only binding agreement is the one for 
nonproliferation; there is still no interna- 
tional law against building, or using, 
nukes. Until there is, most experts 
agree, there will be countries like Iraq 
to build them. 

For Iraq has given face, motive, and 
character to the mythic figure of the se- 
cret bomb maker and has demonstrat- 
ed what it takes; the willingness to lie 
unblinkingly to colleagues; energy and 
money to burn {but less, perhaps, than 
one needs to field a flock of smart- 
bombed F-16s); the conviction that, 
sooner or later, success will come — in 
clandestine bomb building, as in all 
things, patience is a virtue. There must 
be an Edward Teller; in Iraq, that fig- 
ure appears to be the articulate, imag- 
inative Jaffar Dhia Jaffar, leader of the 
Manhattan Project-like effort reported- 
ly dubbed Petrochemical Project 3. And 
there must be an infrastructure of tal- 
ented physicists, chemists, engineers, 
and technicians capable of thinking on 
their feet. Finally, the program must run 
from material acquired outside the safe- 
guards net. 

In the world before the discoveries 
in Iraq, such a program could operate 
undetected for many years— even with 
a kind of general certitude by world- 
wide intelligence organizations that the 
country wanted nuclear weapons. Who 
will be the next Iraq? Here are the play- 
ers, the heroes and villains, of our nu- 
clear future. 

The weapons powers. Still the same 
old group of five, still armed to the 
teeth, these nations are suddenly vola- 
tile. The United States and Soviet Un- 
ion spent a decade squeezing out 
small increments of nuclear disarma- 
ment. Then, in autumn 1991, they be- 
gan a series of bold, unilateral pledg- 
es to strip away their nuclear arsensals. 
Even before the. Soviet Union explod- 
ed into its republics, creating a litter of 
new, less predictable weapons states, 
the two superpowers moved most quick- 
ly to divest themselves of small, tacti- 
cal weapons — warheads that yield the 
explosive power of the Hiroshima 
bomb, but can be carried in the trunk 
of a Honda. No one knows how far 
such cuts will go, but hardly anyone 
ao OMNI 



wants them to slide to zero. Disarma- 
ment, it seems, holds some big sur- 
prises,' much as the easing of East- 
West tensions did. 

"I think there's a risk that the Russian 
military establishment may go up for 
sale," Milhollin says. "One can imagine 
teams of Russian bomb designers in a 
country that could afford them." 

MIT's Tsipis also frets about idle So- 
viet brainpower. "The Russians have sev- 
eral weapons labs with superb scien- 
tists," he says. "They are all of a sud- 
den assigning patents to themselves. 
They are peddling technologies devel 
oped in their weapons programs. In ear- 
ly September, they came to Cambridge 
offering technology on chemical extrac- 
tion of transuranic elements. Only 
good for weapons." He shakes his 
head. "Entrepreneurial Russian scien- 
tists. 'Give us an order,' the Russians 
say. 'We'll produce it for you.' It's almost 



40nly a year ago 

nuclear weapons stood 

ominously at the 

very center of human affairs, 

Now, incredibly, 

experts speak of them as 

a poor man's weapon 

of terror — fossil technology.? 



like Livermore and Sandia going into 
the open market." 

Not only are the Russians going into 
the market — they are going in on the 
cheap, according to an American gov- 
ernment official. "The Sovs are out 
there scaring the shit out of the West 
because you hear, 'Ten thousand dol- 
lars a year per scientist, we'll do R and 
D for you.' Shitty equipment, compared 
to the West, but there the price is 15 or 
20 times as much." 

Not everyone thinks this is a problem. 
"When the West and the Soviet Union 
laid off a lot of people 20 years ago, you 
didn't see it happen then," Thome 
says. "No need for them, since the coun- 
tries were going for smaller weapons. 
Some became safeguards inspectors. 
One or two were employed by other 
countries. Brazil, Argentina. Working in 
atomic energy, mostly." He grins. "Iraq- 
is are concerned about being out of 
work; very bitter about it. These same 
guys who've been lying through their 
teeth will c/y on your shoulder about the 
sites being destroyed, no jobs." The 



Iraqi bomb makers may be the truly dan- 
gerous unemployed. As one IAEA offi- 
cial puts it, "You can't safeguard a 
mind." Dr. Al Strangelove, perhaps. 

Despite such worries, nuclear disar- 
mament appears to be the wave of the 
present and near future, almost certain- 
ly because the dynamics of deterrence 
are being viewed in the hard light of a 
new, realpolitik. "I'll tell you a true sto- 
ry," Tsipis says, by way of making the 
point. "A bunch of Soviet scientists 
were in Moscow in 1986. At an elegant 
party, all the good guys were there, and 
there was this discussion between Gor- 
bachev and an American scientist. The 
American asks, 'Why so many war- 
heads? Why thousands? Why not 50, or 
10?' Gorbachev says, 'We need 6,000.' 
So the American asks, 'Well, what is 
it worth to you? Would you give 
Moscow?' Gorbachev shakes his 
head. The American keeps going: 'Len- 
ingrad? Kiev"? Vladivostok?,' listing ten 
Soviet cities. Gorbachev keeps shaking 
his head. The American says, 'That's on- 
ly ten cities. We can deter you with ten 
warheads. Why do you need more?' But 
there you are," Tsipis concludes. "You 
get your deterrent with hundreds, not 
thousands, of warheads." 

In Vienna, a Soviet official echoes 
Tsipis. "France and Britain keep a mod- 
est nuclear program and seem happy 
with them. Why not Russia the same, for 
the last resort? The example of France 
and the U.K. and China, a few small 
arsenals, a few hundred war- 
heads . , . what is the minimum for a 
last resort?" 

Scaling down vast arsenals is not the 
only good news from the weapons 
states. France and China, which have 
thus far stayed clear of the nonprolifer- 
ation pact, have agreed to come into 
the fold. The bad news is that China, 
although now apparently ready to rati- 
fy, seems to have lost all scruples 
about spreading nuclear knowledge 
across the Third World— selling reactors 
and ballistic missiles to Pakistan and Al- 
geria, for example, and uranium enrich- 
ment technology to Iran. Optimists be- 
lieve the current attitude will soon 
change but find China's behavior puz- 
zling. Perhaps, ventures one IAEA of- 
ficial hopefully, the Chinese central gov- 
ernment is not really in control; perhaps 
the weapons labs are making deals on 
their own. Muses another sadly, "Chi- 
na does not seem to care." 

Israel. Although not a declared weap- 
on state — Israelis will say officially only 
that Israel will not be the first to intro- 
duce nuclear arms into the Middle 
East — the beleaguered little nation has 
moved well up the atomic ladder in re- 
cent years. Today, Israel is believed to 



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have a broad, sophisticated nuclear ar- 
senal rivaling those of France, Britain, 
and China, including fusion-boosted, 
atomic bombs, neutron devices (which 
shower targets with lethal bursts of neu- 
trons, but have a mild explosive 
punch), and even thermonuclear weap- 
ons — and the means of delivering 
them anywhere. Although reported oc- 
casionally through the 1960s, the size 
and complexity of this arsenal was first 
revealed publicly in 1986 when Mor- 
dechai Vanunu, a 31-year-old techni- 
cian, sold words and pictures describ- 
ing weapons development at Dimona, 
in the Negev, to the Times of London. 
Many believed the leak was deliberate, 
flaunting deterrent 
where war-minded 
neighbors could 
see it. Vanunu, who 
was seized abroad 
and returned to Is- 
rael where he was 
sentenced to 18 
years in prison, 
might quibble. Sub- 
sequent reports 
have raised the num- 
ber of suspected Is- 
raeli weapons into 
the low hundreds — 
about the quantity 
many want to be the 
model for the arse- 
nals of the future. 

Israel's enemies. 
No Arab country 
can quite ignore 
the fact of Israel's 
mighty nuclear 
sword, and some 
find it unendura- 
ble — Iraq, no doubt, 
among them. Even 
in her death throes, 
Israel could destroy 
the homelands of 
her assassins, a 
tactic for which writ- 
er Seymour Hersh 
recently coined the term the Samson Op- 
tion. But the Arab nations must also find 
it intolerable to be always so far behind 
Israel in things technical. Iraq's weap- 
ons program must have run partly off 
that powerful, unscratchable itch to 
outperform a hated rival. So must the 
perceived nuclear aspirations of Syria, 
Algeria, and Iran — countries that only a 
few years ago were not even on the list 
of prospective bomb builders, but 
which now appear to be heading to- 
ward weapons programs of their own. 
Libya, the eternal outlaw, remains ill- 
equipped to develop a bomb at home, 
but quick with oil money should one— . 
perhaps a tactical warhead lost in the 



chaos of Soviet disintegration — find its 
way into the marketplace where nations 
do their secret buying. 

Among these players, the Gorba- 
chev anecdote and its parable of de- 
terrence plays less pleasantly. Would 
the United Nations trade London for 
Baghdad? Would America sacrifice Peo- 
ria to push an invader from Kuwait? 
Those crazy tens of thousands of war- 
heads notwithstanding, a stalemate 
seems to develop very quickly with 
crude nukes. On the other hand, one 
must also ask whether anyone would 
trade a capital city — a Baghdad, a 
Damascus, a Teheran — for all the cit- 
ies in Israel. Sad to say, the answer 



ecdotal references to more extensive 
weaponry. Perhaps the most telling is 
a story heard in Vienna, where a Soviet 
diplomat jokingly told a high-ranking In- 
dian scientist that they should an- 
nounce themselves as a weapon state 
and join the Big Five. The Indian unblink- 
ingly replied that this was precisely 
what he and his colleagues were trying 
to persuade their prime minister to do. 
As though suddenly, India is perceived 
as having not just a crude atomic de- 
vice, but a rack of bombs. Behind a 
translucent veil, India has become a 
true nuclear power, 

Pakistan, the runt of the subcontinen- 
tal twins, has made news with a chron- 
ic nuclear lust ever 



Exported from 
Kentucky \fery 
reluctantly 



WILD 
TURKEY 

101 proof, real Kentucky 




since the If 



n ex- 



could be yes. 

India and Pakistan. Like huge twins 
joined at the shoulder, they are seldom 
spoken of separately by people in the 
non proliferation game, although the two 
are very different. Their status has shift- 
ed dramatically since the 1974 Indian 
detonation. Asked about India's nucle- 
ar capabilities a decade ago, experts 
would have replied that the country had 
once exploded a nuclear device — no 
doubt as ungainly and unportable as 
the Trinity bomb of 1945. Without 
much fuss, however, India has evolved 
a nuclear industry powerful enough to 
begin exporting reactors to any who 
will buy them, and there are at least an- 



plosion. Like Israel. 
their bomb, if there 
really is one, re- 
mains an official se- 
cret, its existence 
steadfastly denied 
by the govern- 
ment — but bragged 
about by knowl- 
edgeable individu- 
als. Pakistan's Ed- 
ward Teller is Abdel 
Qadir Khan, who 
claims that his re- 
search program has 
mastered uranium 
enrichment. Indeed, 
he is a national hero 
for purloining centri- 
fuge secrets from 
Urenco, a European 
uranium processing 
consortium in Hol- 
land. He reportedly 
boasts openly of the 
size and sophistica- 
tion of the nuclear ar- 
senal he has creat- 
ed. Not everyone be- 
lieves him, though. 
Experts agree that 
Pakistan has been 
trying very hard to get a bomb, running 
a secret weapons project separately 
from its safeguarded civilian energy pro- 
gram. But they seem not to have used 
their vaunted centrifuges to go for a ura- 
nium weapon; all reports suggest that 
they have opted instead for a plutonium 
device, and some say they have failed. 
"To build a bomb program takes ten 
years," says Tsipls. Then grinning, "For 
Pakistan, a little more. Good physicists 
but lousy engineers." He notes news sto- 
ries that they have had great difficulty 
in fashioning the implosion trigger need- 
ed for a plutonium bomb. 

Milhollin is less sanguine. "I would 
imagine that Pakistan could deploy on 



short notice," he says. "A matter of 
weeks." Perhaps the clearest sign that 
Pakistan has finally gotten there is that 
President Bush, for the first time last 
year, was unable to certify to the Con- 
gress that Pakistan has no nuclear weap- 
ons program. 

South Africa. While some nuke watch- 
ers now say the South Africans were nev- 
er serious about a bomb, many believe 
South Africa had fashioned a few 
bombs, perhaps in cahoots with Israel. 
Whatever the progress until now, 
South Africa seems to have renounced 
the weapon after all and ratified the non- 
proliferation treaty. A Soviet expert 
says he thinks they have begun dilut- 
ing their weapons-grade uranium back 
to lower levels of U-235. Says an Amer- 
ican official, "The nuclear people there 
want to make sure that if they have any- 
thing, it isn't there when they no longer 
control the government. South Africa 
could be the proliferation spy who 
came in from the cold." They may be 
off the bad list. 

Taiwan. One used to hear that this 
island nation of displaced Chinese 
would never rest until it had parried main- 
land China's nukes. Now, what once 
seemed a nest of secret bomb makers 
has quietly become respectable. "Tai- 
wan had to decide whether to go its 



own way," says an American official, "or 
continue to get economic and techni- 
cal cooperation from the United 
States . . . and chose the latter." 

North Korea. One of the mausolea of 
communism, this bad-tempered new- 
comer to the bomb list appears to be 
the next Iraq, and the greatest chal- 
lenge to date of the, IAEA's ability to 
keep the nonproliferation peace. "A lot 
of people say North Korea is in the first 
steps of a weapons program," says Mi- 
chael Wilmshurst, a former British dip- 
lomat who until recently headed the 
IAEA's division of external relations, 
charged with negotiating the agree- 
ments that hold the larger pact togeth- 
er. "Others say that North Korea would 
do everything underground — they'd use 
tunnels. I don't think they are going to 
let the agency resolve this." 

North Korea signed the nonprolifer- 
ation treaty about seven years ago, but 
not unconditionally, as the agreement 
requires — they refrained from signing 
the concomitant safeguards agreement. 
They have said that negotiations with 
the United States must come first, to rid 
South Korea of American nuclear weap- 
ons. But even an American pledge to 
do this has not done the trick— North 
Korea simply raised the ante, demand- 
ing that its southern sister be evicted 



/ i-rs f\ 

I BOfftfP 

1 IAflf£R 
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from the American nuclear umbrella. 
The research center at Yongbyon re- 
mains off-limits to inspectors. 

Many believe North Korea's slow shuf- 
fle toward a saieguards agreement is 
intended to buy time for its weapons de- 
velopment program. "Trjey're making 
weapons for 'defense,'" sneers an Amer- 
ican official, not displaying the slight- 
est doubt of North Korea's intentions. 
"Hard to know what 'defense' means to 
them. It may be like Hitler was threat- 
ened by the Poles." 

Tsipis doesn't see a problem, wheth- 
er or not North Korea builds a bomb. 
"Suppose North Korea gets an arsenal; 
then what?" he asks rhetorically, "Tell 
South Korea, 'Hand over the jewels'? 
South Korea says no, Then what? 
Bomb Seoul? Then they get nothing. 
Suppose North Korea occupies Japan. 
Will they be able to sustain the Japa- 
nese economy? No. So, what is the 
gain? You can't force the Japanese to 
do it. Force doesn't work anymore. 
Like slavery, human sacrifice, cannibal- 
ism . . . it's gone." 

Just about everyone else believes, 
based on the record, that North Korea 
does not care if wanting a bomb is con- 
sidered irrational, futile, or old-fash- 
ioned. "Personally, I am very worried," 
admits a Soviet diplomat. "I have been 
there and have some understanding of 
that mentality." But others, like 
Wilmshurst, worry less about a North 
Korean bomb than the chain of diplomat- 
ic events that its development could trig- 
ger. "If North Korea admits to making 
weapons, then South Korea will drop 
out of the NPT obligations, and then 
perhaps Japan." Such fears may 
prove groundless. The two Koreas be- 
gan the new year by concluding a sur- 
prise agreement to clear their penin- 
sula of nuclear weapons. It could be 
real progress; but it could equally be 
yet another North Korean device to 
lengthen the fuze on its decision to ad- 
mit safeguards inspectors. 

Japan. The Japanese aversion to all 
things nuclear is axiomatic— the explo- 
sions at Hiroshima and Nagasaki, we 
have been told since 1945, sealed the 
national attitude against developing nu- 
clear weapons. And yet, this atomical- 
ly allergic nation has one of the world's 
most extensive and advanced pro- 
grams in nuclear energy — their commit- 
ment is second only to that of France. 
Moreover, they have evidently opted to 
fuel the future not with imported hydro- 
carbons, but with home-grown plutoni- 
um. Japan pursues the so-called fast- 
breeder reactor, which is supposed to 
create more fuel, in the form of plutoni- 
um, than it consumes. They also have 
some of the planet's most advanced ura- 



nium enrichment and spent-fuel reproc- 
essing facilities. 

Being one of the great nuclear na- 
tions technologically, Japan is inevita- 
bly seen as being able to throw a 
bomb together. "They have an aggres- 
sive space program," says MNhollin, 
"and are commited to a plulonium fu- 
ture. They could become a nuclear su- 
perpower. They either now have or 
soon will have the means to put a war- 
head anywhere in the world. With the 
breakup of the Soviet empire, Japan 
and the United States are economic ri- 
vals . . . military force has been used 
to achieve economic goals. It's not be- 
yond imagination, it could happen," It 
is a Japan with nuclear weapons. 

Thome can remember that Japan 
was extremely reluctant to come into 
the safeguards program in the first 
place. "In the early 1970s, they want- 
ed nothing to do with nonproliferation. 
Some of the more extreme technical 
people saw it as interference in their 
nuclear industry." In the medium term, 
a North Korean bomb is viewed by 
some Japanese scientists as sufficient 
impetus to make Japan take up weap- 
ons. Looking into the next century, how- 
ever, the players change. One scenar- 
io: Japan is somehow goaded into 
bomb building not by the actions of 
neighborhood gangs, but by those of 
an estranged friend— us. 

Germany. One of the ironies of safe- 
guards is that most of the $70-million-a- 
year effort goes to monitor the nuclear 
industries of countries like Japan and 
Germany, both now considered nucle- 
ar sweethearts. It was not always this 
way. "If I had been able to say 20 
years ago that 60 to 80 percent would 
go to Germany and Japan," Thorne mus- 
es, and stops, leaving unsaid, I would 
have gotten a medal. "The Soviet Un- 
ion wanted safeguards only so it could 
be applied to the Federal Republic of 
Germany. They were dead scared that 
Germany was going for a weapons pro- 
gram. The Soviet Union really wanted 
them under safeguards." 

Certainly Germany has tried to be 
good, and to be seen as doing so. Show- 
ered with invective when German en- 
trepreneurs were discovered sneaking 
technology to such places as Libya and 
Iraq, Germany passed laws that will put 
citizens in jail for trading in the material 
ot indiscriminate destruction — nukes. 
Some argue that the intertwining of Eu- 
rope's economies effectively neutraliz- 
es any German inclinations to tinker 
with nuclear explosives. On the other 
hand, there is all that ability, "Germa- 
ny, like Japan, has an advanced urani- 
um and plutonium capability," says 
fvlilhollin, "and also ICBM development | 



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capability. They could do it very quick- 
ly. The big problem for [Germany and 
Japan] would be for them to do it with- 
out our finding out. Exposure would like- 
ly stop Germany. It would be unlikely 
to stop Japan." 

Latin America. Only three Latin coun- 
tries — Argentina, Brazil, and possibly 
Chile are believed capable of building 
a bomb. Of these, only Brazil and Argen- 
tina have caused concern by develop- 
ing indigenous sources of enriched ura- 
nium — Brazil, especially, appears to 
have gone "quite a long way" toward 
weapons development. Now they have 
said their weapons days are over and 
have asked their congresses to ratify 
agreements that forswear nuclear weap- 
ons, even peaceful explosions, and com- 
mit both nations to bilateral as well as 
IAEA safeguards on their entire nucle- 
ar programs. Asked about the reliabili- 
ty of such regional safeguards, Ziffere- 
ro grins. "When you are a neighbor in- 
specting a neighbor," he says, "you 
know where to look." Meanwhile, re- 
ports from Chile indicate that Chile has 
embarked on a program to develop a 
uranium supply, presumably to fuel a 
nuclear energy program. Overall, how- 
ever, the chances are excellent that 
Latin America, a place of legendary insta- 
bility in many other respects, will be- 
come the world's first nuclear-weapons- 
free zone. 

As it was in the Beginning ... On its 
surface, the nuclear future looks kind- 
er and gentler than the nuclear past. 
The arsenals that could have destroyed 
much of the planet's life seem to be 
shrinking to the cube root of their for- 
mer numbers. The world no longer 
walks a tightrope strung between two 
superpowers. Former bad guys have 
expressed interest in returning to the 
fold. Hans Blix, the Swedish director- 
general of the IAEA, sees the combina- 
tion of disarmament and the good 
news from China, France, South Africa, 
Argentina, and Brazil as a sign of a 
kind of nuclear springtime in the air. 
Certainly the renewal of the Treaty on 
the Non-proliferation of Nuclear Weap- 
ons, set for 1995, is almost a sure 
thing, despite some carping by coun- 
tries pushing for a total test ban. "Our 
ambition is to have complete nuclear 
nonproliferation by 1995," he says. "I 
don't think it is impossible." 

But if one takes up the darker 
strands of this same tapestry, the future 
looks less friendly. Many weapons will 
remain, and others are clearly on the 
way. It seems only a matter of time be- 
fore India and Pakistan declare them- 
selves to be nuclear weapon states — 
there is still no international law against 
building such weapons, after all. 



North Korea may also claim weapons 
status in time, and — depending upon 
the resiliency of the American nuclear 
umbrella — South Korea may feel it has 
to follow suit. Japan has the means, if 
not the political desire, to become the 
next great military superpower and 
might be compelled to do so by the re- 
gional instabilities created by a nucle- 
ar North Korea, or by some other as yet 
unforeseeable event. 

Iraq, one must assume, is now eter- 
nally in the nuclear camp and its acqui- 
sition of the bomb is an eventuality, tem- 
porarily displaced further into the future. 
Iran, Algeria, and Syria have shown 
signs of the itch; there is no chance it 
will ease while Israel possesses nucle- 
ar arms. One chilling scenario, put 
forth by a French IAEA official, envisions 
an Islamic coalition of secret bomb build- 
ers, linked to technically adroit Moslems 
in the Soviet Union, where disintegra- 



iLooking into the 

next century, the pfayers 

change. One 

scenario: Japan is somehow 

goaded into bomb 

building not by malicious 

neighbors, but 

by an estranged friend — us. 9 



tion may very well create the worst of 
all possible situations: a clutch of 
small, impoverished weapon states, 
linked ideologically to the angry oil ty- 
coons of the Gulf. 

In the meantime, more and more coun- 
tries begin to turn to the atom for ener- 
gy, prestige, and technical knowhow — 
knowhow that inevitably connects to the 
technology of weapons. The genie, as 
they say, is really out of the bottle. 

Critics of the IAEA believe the pre- 
sent safeguards apparatus cannot be- 
gin to accommodate this dangerously 
nuclear future. Some want the safe- 
guards function to pass to the U.N. Se- 
curity Council, where all teeth ultimate- 
ly reside. For its part, the agency, 
proud of its expertise and loath to lose 
turf, has proposed what it calls "en- 
hanced safeguards" — a system strength- 
ened by access to intelligence and peo- 
ple to interpret it. a leakproof global 
watch on the movement of relevant 
goods, license to make unannounced 
"challenge" inspections, and an end to 
even handedness so that limited resourc- 



es are diverted from writing parking tick- 
ets to chasing outlaws. 

Not many people believe all — or 
any — of this can happen in the real 
world. "I remember 1974, India explod- 
ing its nuclear device," says Wilmshurst. 
"The concerned community picked up 
everything and shook it.' We looked at 
the international fuel cycle, we formed 
study groups, and . . . nothing hap- 
pened. All these other new ideas we ex- 
amined closely . . . and dropped. We 
are no better equipped to deal with the 
problems on the horizon than we 
would have been for Iraq without the co- 
alition forces." 

Thus, no one imagines North Korea 
submitting docilely to a challenge inspec- 
tion of its undeclared nuclear workshop 
at Yongbyon, or that such angels as 
Japan and Germany will suffer such intru- 
sions gladly. Nor does anyone see the 
Security Council as going permanently 
on the warpath — attacking North Korea, 
for example, if it turns out they have a 
secret weapons program. Although the 
world looks very different on the far 
side of the Euphrates, it will be ap- 
proached much as it has always been. 
Sometimes the Security Council will be 
permitted by consensus to put In its 
fangs and fight; but most of the time it 
will have to settle for handing out a 
good scolding to nuclear renegades. 
As it was when the Israelis raided an 
unfinished Iraqi reactor eleven years 
ago, so it is now, and so it may be for- 
ever: Alarmed nations will have to take 
matters into their own hands. 

They will do this, however, in a set- 
ting that, in terms of nuclear weapons, 
will be more like the 1960s than today. 
Powerful bombs will ride aircraft and 
famously unreliable missiles. There will 
be no pretense, as there was latterly 
between the superpowers, that these 
weapons are targeted mainly on military 
sites. These weapons of the future, 
at least in their early generations, will 
be about as smart as America's old At- 
las ICBM, which is to say not very 
smart at all. There will be no talk of drop- 
ping a nuke down somebody's chim- 
ney — they will do well to launch the 
thing in the general direction of a 
town. As fictive nuclear battles between 
the Soviet Union and United States did 
30 years ago, combatants in the atom- 
ic world just ahead will win or lose by 
destroying the opponent's population — 
by trading cities. 

Some things never change. DO 



Carl A. Posey writes frequently on topics in 
science and education. His fifth novel, Bush- 
master Fall, a tale of science ano esoioiiaqe 
set in the rain forest, was published in Feb- 
ruary by Donald I. Fine. 



irUTEnVIElAJ 



looking for a rare little monkey-animal 
named teutonius. It was a beautiful 
place; there were patches of snow, very 
other-worldly. I suddenly had this pre- 
monition, so for a whim, I said, "Con- 
stance, you're going to find a teutonius 
jaw with seven teeth." We laughed, 
then collected for another two hours. 
We were about to go back to the truck, 
and she leaned against a rock. Right 
next to her hand was a teutonius jaw 
with seven teeth, 

Omni: What was it like to discover Lit- 
tle Big Foot, of the rare Othnielia fami- 
ly, and the baby brontosaur? 
Bakker: The bones of Little Big Foot 
and the baby brontosaur were intitially 
found by Jim Filla and Jim Siegwarth, 
from the National Institute of Standards 
and Technology. I'd only seen one spec- 
imen of Little Big Foot in the field in 20 
years. Now, in Bosler, a ghost town in 
Wyoming, these guys find a really 
good specimen. When Constance and 
I went to the site, we found lots more 
jaws and teeth — bizarro teeth that 
looked like miniature buzz saws ar- 
ranged in a semicircle. Each tooth has 
two sides, more like a mammal than a 
dinosaur tooth. The third time, we 
found babies, three or four individuals, 
but no sign of eggshells. I'd never 
seen a baby brontosaur, although Bron- 
tosaurus is a common animal. This lit- 
tle guy is about 200 pounds. 
Omni: What have you learned about 
the Age of Dinosaurs from this site? 
Bakker: The Brontosaurus environment 
was usually pretty damned dry, but in 
the Little Big Foot era, it must have 
been as soggy as New Jersey in the 
spring rains — full of fish, lungfish, and 
turtles. The dinosaur party line tells you 
that the dinosaur ankle is not flexible, 
can't move or twist. But the Little Big 
Foot ankle still has a fair amount of flex- 
ibility. If you're running on soft, mushy 
ground with big, spreading feet like Lit- 
tle Big Foot was, you need a flexible an- 
kle; otherwise you'd break it. 

Now we've got bits and pieces of a 
fully adult specimen that would be 
about six feet long from head to tail and 
lighter than a lot of Thanksgiving tur- 
keys — pretty damned small. So here's 
a very small dinosaur in the Jurassic — 
the age of big dinosaurs — running 
around with spreading mudshoe feet in 
a mushy part of the environment, when 
all around was pretty dry. It gets curi- 
ouser and curiouser. 
Omni: How did you find the new King 
of Carnivores, the epantehas? 
Bakker: University of Colorado grad stu- 

90 OMNI 



dent Jim Kirkland, whom I call the "Croc- 
odile Dundee of Dinosaurs," found it. 
He's legally blind in one eye, but he has 
the uncanny knack of knowing where 
fossils will be from miles away. He saw 
this tiny patch of outcrop in the bad- 
lands from the road, and he said, "We 
should look there." And I said, "Why 
should we go all the way over there?" 
The first bone he found was a piece of 
epantehas tail six inches long, which 
means the whole tail would be 25 feet 
long, and that is, pardon the expres- 
sion, a long piece of tail! The tails of 
meat eaters are very distinctive. So we 
knew we were on to the only meat eat- 
er that big: epantehas. The bone was 
well preserved but very brittle. It took 
hundreds of hours to chip it off the 
rock. Mot in my most — I'd say drug- 
crazed dreams, but I don't take drugs — 
did I ever expect to find an epantehas. 
Two have been found in 150 years. 



iTake the minibus to 

Uganda: How 

many big, cold-blooded 

animals do you see? 

How many herds of tortoises? 

How many hunting 

packs of komodo dragons 

in Indonesia?^ 



Bigger than Tyrannosaurus Rex and 
every bit as scary, epanterias is the 
last allosaur, the final stage in the evo- 
lution of that illustrious family. The pat- 
tern with dinosaurs is that they evolve 
quickly, get bigger, and" then die out. 
Tyrannosaurus Rex is the last species 
of its family; epanterias the last of its ge- 
nus and family. After that, no more Al- 
losaurus. If you pick up yourGo/den 
Book of Dinosaurs, it talks about Juras- 
sic dinosaurs — Brontosaurus, Atiosau- 
rus — and gives the impression there 
was one age of dinosaurs when all 
these animals lived together. That's 
like talking about Egyptian history as if 
there was the priest, the Pharoah, and 
the pyramid. Period. There wasn't one 
age of the Jurassic; there were five or 
six, separated by change, extinction, ev- 
olution, new animal species moving in. 
The very last Pharaoh of the Morrison 
dynasty, epanterias, was probably big 
enough to threaten a brontosaur. That 
was not true of the previous five or six 
Pharaohs. 
Omni: You've said you count the days 



until you can set off to dig. Would you 
rather be in the field than on TV? 
Bakker: No, because TV is a way of 
teaching. It's important to share infor- 
mation, and the laity ask interesting ques- 
tions that don't occur to paleontologists. 
Omni: When, in the sixties, you saw 
that dinosaurs had been s'hoehorned in- 
to the wrong paradigm, how did you go 
about prying them out of it? 
Bakker: I said you've got to look at di- 
nosaurs point by point; take them apart 
as if you never saw one before. I did 
my undergraduate thesis on dinosaur 
front ends. I dissected frogs, toads, 
bats, elephant shrews, dogs, cats, two 
kinds of alligators. Dinosaurs show a 
clear mechanical similarity to large, fast- 
running animals. I never take a dinosaur 
by itself. This morning I was looking at 
dissections of crocodile and turkey 
necks to reconstruct the neck muscles 
of that sauropod we're digging. 

People don't compare dinosaurs to 
other critters. Take the classic orthodox 
statement, "triceratops couldn't run 
fast." Why? "Its legs weren't strong 
enough." Compared to what? Rhinos, 
hippos, elephants are the biggest ani- 
mals on the surface of the planet now. 
Giant tortoises are the biggest terres- 
trial reptile we've got. What is a tricera- 
tops more like — a white rhino or a gi- 
ant tortoise? It's more like a superrhi- 
no.. If you want to know how fast a tri- 
ceratops is, measure how thick and 
long its legs are, for Pete's sake, and 
compare it to something running 
around today. Pound for pound, the tri- 
ceratops has longer and much thicker 
legs than a white rhino. Unlike the Pen- 
tagon, evolution doesn't overbuild 
more strength than needed. Animals 
run as fast as the legs they're given. 
Omni: But the rhino is a mammal, and 
the dinosaur is not. 
Bakker: Don't give me this mammal- 
schmammal business. There are univer- 
sal truths here! I mean, if it works for 
mammals, it's got to work for dinosaurs. 
Orthodoxy says dinosaurs must be 
slow because they're very big. Is the 
white rhino slow because it's big? I've 
been chased by a white rhino in Krug- 
er Game Park in South Africa, and the 
white rhino was passing the Land Rover. 
Omni: Don't paleontologists still classi- 
fy dinosaurs as reptiles? 
Bakker: What the hell does that mean — 
"They're reptiles"? That's just bloody stu- 
pid. Thinking by labels is pop-top, vend- 
ing-machine science. Put a quarter in 
reptile- Ping! Ching! Out it comes — cold- 
blooded, stupid, and slow. Geez! That 
pretzel logic could prove the white rhi- 
no is cold-blooded. 
Omni: So how would you reclassify 
dinosaurs? 




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Bakker: Birds, dinosaurs, and their 
close kin belong in one group. You 
could call it Dinosauria or Hyposauria, 
but don't cad it reptile. But taking dino- 
saurs out of Reptitia is like burning the 
flag — it deflates a lot of the orthodox ar- 
gument. Then if you think about din- 
sosaurs, you're thinking about big 
birds, not big lizards, crocodiles, or cold- 
blooded hippos. 

Omni: Don't we have to find a missing 
link to prove that birds descended 
from dinosaurs? 

Bakker: Evolution doesn't proceed by 
huge jumps. It's a bushy tree with lots 
of branches. We didn't go from monkey 
to chimp to your great-great-great-grand- 
mother to you. I can't tell you which di- 
nosaur was the ancestor of birds. I can 
give you about five dinosaurs that 
were very birdlike, but the ancestor is 
probably not one of those. It's proba- 
bly one we don't know yet, somewhere 
in between two branches. 
Omni: The big plastic robotic dinosaurs 
you've designed for Dinamation are all 
brightly colored. Why? 
Bakker: It's sort of jarring — a bright- 
pink dinosaur, a bright-blue patch on 
the duckbill. Ooo, what's going on 
here? Well, we have an envelope of plau- 
sibility. If you want to know what color 
an animal is, your first question is, Is it 
color blind? If so, it won't evolve bright 
colors to express social and sexual po- 
sition. Birds are color-sighted animals, 
so they evolve this wonderful array of 
colors to identify species and social 
rank. I mean, it's important not to 
waste time courting someone of anoth- 
er species. Unless you're in Southern 
California, you don't want to do that. 
Since there are 800 other kinds of 
birds, also courting, you've got to have 
a unique, color-coded ID badge. 

So, were dinosaurs color sighted? 
Most certainly, because the only direct 
descendants of dinosaurs today are 
birds. The only thing close to an ances- 
tor of the dinosaur is an alligator or croc- 
odile, and they are color sighted too. So 
the whole family tree of dinosaurs — 
their friends and relatives — are basical- 
ly color sighted. If they courted at 
night, they wouldn't need bright colors. 
Alligators and crocodiles are not 
bright, but they are color sighted. Well, 
they court at night. Since dinosaurs had 
crests over their faces, visual recogni- 
tion cues, they were most certainly court- 
ing by sight during the day. They were 
courting a la bird rather than a la 'ga- 
tor There were bright colors on dino- 
saurs, particularly on their faces. 
Which colors, we'll never know, but it 
certainly would be wrong to spray paint 
all dinosaurs green, brown, or gray. 
Omni: Your opponents claim that 

92 OMNI 



some dinosaurs may have been warm- 
blooded, but the others had a kind of 
specialized reptile metabolism. 
Bakker: That some dinosaurs have a 
special physiology sounds good in the- 
ory—but name one. There are 8,000 spe^ 
cies of birds today. Some eat clams, oth- 
ers seeds or fish. Every one is warm- 
blooded. Every one has a giant heart. 
Are you going to tell me that an eagle 
is more warm-blooded than a pigeon? 
Brontosaur ate plants and was big. Dei- 
nonychus was small and ate meat. 
That means nothing relative to their 
metabolism. 

I've often heard the statement, 
"Well, there are flaws in the warm-blood- 
ed theory." Anyone saying that is miss- 
ing the point. The real question is, 
Which theory is stronger? Slow, cold- 
blooded, stupid? Or fast, warm-blood- 
ed, smart? Not one dinosaur bone 
that's been cut looks like an alligator 



iTriceratops have longer 

and thicker 

legs than a white rhino, 

and unlike the 

Pentagon, evolution doesn't 

overbuild. Animals 

run as fast as the legs 

they're given. 9 



bone. Every single one has shown the 
animal grew fast. If you take these di- 
nosaurs apart, no matter how you cut 
them, they sure look like big birds. 
Omni: Your opponents argue that the 
growth rate tells us nothing about dino- 
saur physiology. 

Bakker: Nonsense. How fast does a gi- 
ant tortoise grow in the Galapagos? 
Very slowly. A small bird? Very fast. 
Small, medium, or large warm-bloods 
grow faster in the wild than small, me- 
dium, or large cold-bloods. Take the god- 
dam minibus to Uganda and how many 
big, cold-blooded animals do you see? 
Do you see herds of tortoises? Hunting 
packs of Komodo dragons in Indone- 
sia? Unless you're lucky enough to see 
a python, you don't see any big cold- 
bloods. Yet people cling to the central 
dogma, "Oh, dinosaurs were all big and 
it was a warm climate, so they didn't 
have to be warm-blooded." It doesn't 
wash; we should be beyond this. 
Omni: Experts disagreeing with you 
have protested that we can never 
know the truth about dinosaur physiol- 



ogy because they're extinct 
Bakker: Bone is a very faithful tissue 
and tells many stories. Bones are able 
to record at least 85 percent of body 
mass, because every major muscle 
leaves a mark on a bone. So do the 
nerves and brain. The thousands of fos- 
sil skeletons we have of dinosaurs are 
a tremendous matrix of information. If 
you can't answer the major questions 
with that, then you're either blind, blind- 
ed by bias, or not very smart. 
Omni: Critics accuse you of rejecting sci- 
entific terminology. Unlike most paleon- 
tologists, you use Brontosaurus, not the 
academically preferred Apatosaurus. 
Bakker: Jargon, I hate jargon, which my 
field is terribly afflicted with. Brontosau- 
rus is the correct name. The name for 
an animal serves two purposes: one, to 
communicate; two, to honor the person 
who discovered the animal. Which is 
known better to the average second 
grader? Brontosaurus, obviously. Pur- 
ists say Apatosaurus is the older 
name, but both were coined by the 
same guy. It's absolute idiocy to insist 
on Apatosaurus; you're not honoring pro- 
fessor Othniel Charles Marsh by using 
Apatosaurus; you're honoring obfusca- 
tion, and I hate it. It encapsulates the 
slavish, dumb, obfuscatory side effects of 
what I call the priestly language: jargon. 

I know a New York paleontologist 
who, instead of saying "eye socket" 
will say fossa. orbitalis. That sounds 
like a German drinking song: [sings in 
deep baritone] Fos-sa Fos-sa Or-bi-tal- 
is! Geez! Why the hell cling to a thir- 
teenth-century language that excludes 
people? Brontosaurus is a good name: 
It means thunder lizard. 
Omni: What killed the dinosaurs? 
Bakker: Disease. Disease is probably 
the biggest killer of animal species in 
the natural world. Not climatic chang- 
es, not big predators, not changes in 
plants. Historians of human history cer- 
tainly know that one. For modern pale- 
ontologists this is a hackle-raising the- 
ory, but it was believed 90 years ago. 
H.L. Osborn, the first American evolu- 
tionary paleontologist who was the es- 
tablishment — this man could strut sitting 
down — saw dozens of antelope dying 
of rinderpest and drew the same con- 
clusion in 1900. He pointed out that 
whenever fauna from one continent mix 
with fauna from another, disease 
should cause massive extinctions. 

Dinosaurs frequently moved from con- 
tinent to continent;, maybe every million 
or two years there were waves of immi- 
gration and migration. Many parasites 
have a traveling stage, a cyst, in which 
they can survive in a host. Disease al- 
so kills big animals preferentially be- 
cause they travel more. Warm-blooded 



animals have ■■lors d.seases than cold- 
bloods. Mass die-of(s of dinosaurs 
seem inevitable if the faunas mixed, 
and they did. 

When we studied the Big Horn ba- 
sin it was chock-full of extinction events. 
There wasn't one age cf Brontosaurus; 
there were four or five. And each 
seems to have collapsed pretty sudden- 
ly. There may have been 60 extinctions 
in the total reign of the dinosaur. I think 
extinctions were common, catastrophic, 
and sudden, and the dominant species 
got wiped out without any warning. Dis- 
ease kills more quickly than anything 
else, and there are so many kinds ot dis- 
eases. But extraterrestrial events, like ex- 
ploding asteroids, are more popular. 
Omni: Where are the hot spots for di- 
nosaurology right now? 
Bakker: Dinosaurs you've heard about — 
Brontosaurus, Ailosaurus — are from 
just a few clumps in history. Most of 
dinosaur history is still in the Dark Ag- 
es; there are no specimens. The Chi' 
nese are filling in one of the most ' 
portant gaps. In central China, Sichu- 
an, they have middle-Jurassic dino- 
saurs, which no one else has, at least 
not good ones. Truly missing links, 
whole missing chains! New species, gen- 
era, families— things we never imag- 



ined! But we're a hundred years ahead 
of the Chinese in exploring. We're able 
■ to refine our vision and look at better 
and better close-ups of dinosaur evo- 
lution. In North America we can provide 
a more richly textured matrix of data 
about dinosaur patterns of success and 
extinction. 

Omni: What, would most benefit the 
study of dinosaurs now? 
Bakker: More amateurs. It used to be 
that most dinosaurs were studied by un- 
paid professionals. Now the field 
tends to discourage amateurs. If an 
amateur goes to the American Museum 
of Natural History in New York and 
says, "I want to look at your research 
collection," they won't let you in. Pale- 
ontology has become a closed club. 
Yet some of the best of us don't have 
degrees. Dinosaurology needs an ar- 
my, like the ornithologists. There are 
about 50,000 good bird watchers in 
North America alone, and they're ex- 
tremely efficient and productive in a 
scholarly way. Because bird watchers 
make a season-by-season census, we 
now know that songbirds are going ex- 
tinct and why. We need that for dino- 
saurs: an army of people who know 
how to tell the species apart and 
enough anatomy to go into those 



vaults and catalog a hundred years 
backlog of skeletons. Most of the 
bones studied by Marsh in 1890 are 
still unpublished and unanalyzed in the 
Yale basement. You can't find diagrams 
of most dinosaur bones in books. 
Omni: Would you like to see your vision 
of the dinosaur universally accepted? 
Bakker: God, no. Then I'd be the new 
orthodoxy! The battle is mostly won. 
The Golden Book of Dinosaurs— the 
most widely distributed book on dino- 
saurs—is totally different than the one 
I grew up with. Brontosaur is out of the 
swamps; it's no longer green; dinosaurs 
are evolving into birds . . . That means 
a hundred million kids worldwide have 
been correctly informed. The genie is 
out of the bottle and will never go back 
in. And if some of my stuffy colleagues 
refuse to catch up with The Golden 
Book, thai's their prerogative. 
Omni: What's next? 
Bakker: Digging more holes, finding 
more stuff, throwing more balls for dogs, 
drawing more pictures. I never know ex- 
actly. Peripheral vision is what you need 
in the sciences. You set a goal, go after 
it, and soon you find out the important 
stuff is on the periphery of your goal. 
Evolution is just too gloriously bushy not 
to be full of surprises. DO 



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MIGHT MUSIC 



living room and sat in front of the com- 
puter. WBAI had finished replaying the 
simulcast. He must have been in the 
John a long time. He switched off the 
radio so he could hear the music in his 
head. 

"I'm sitting here listening to a little 
night music, a reedy little whisper of mel- 
ody leaking out a crack in death's 
door, and you know, even though I 
can't hear or th'ink of much of anything 
except that shivery sliver of sound, it's 
become more a virtue than a hindrance; 
it's beginning to order the world in an 
entirely new way. I don't have to explain 
i! to those of you who are hearing it 
with me, but for the rest of you, let me 
shed some light on the experience. One 
sees . . . clearly, I suppose, is the 
word, yet that doesn't cover it. One is 
freed from the tangles of inhibition, vol- 
atile emotion, and thus can perceive 
how easy it is to change one's life, and 
finally, one understands that with a very 
few changes one can achieve a state 
of calm perfection. A snip here, a tuck 
taken there, another snip-snip, and sud- 
denly it becomes apparent that there is 
nothing left to do, absolutely nothing, 
and one has achieved utter harmony 
with one's environment." 

The screen was glowing too brightly 
to look at. Goodrick dimmed it. Even the 
darkness, he realized, had its own pe- 
culiar radiance. B-zarre. He drew a 
deep breath ... or rather tried to, but 
his chest didn't move. Cool, he 
thought, very cool. Mo moving parts. 
Just solid calm, white, white calm in a 
black, black, shell, and a little bit of fix- 
ing up remaining to do. He was almost 
there. Wherever there was. 

A cool alto trickle of pleasure 
through the rumble of nights. 

"I cannot recommend the experience 
too highly. After all, there's almost no 
overhead, no troublesome desires, no 
ugly moods, no loathsome habits . . . ." 

A click — the front door opening, a 
sound that seemed to increase the 
brightness in the room. Footsteps, and 
then Rachel's voice. 

"Wade?" 

He could feel her. Hot, sticky, soft. 
He could feel the suety weights of her 
breasts, the torsion of her hips, the flex- 
ing of live sinews, like music of a kind, 
a lewd concerto of vitality and deceit. 

"There you are'" she said brightly, a 
streak of hot sound, and came up be- 
hind him. She leaned down, hands on 
his shoulders, and kissed his cheek, a 
serpent of brown hair coiling across his 
neck and onto his chest. 

94 OMNI 



"How's the column going?" she 
asked, moving away. 

He cut his eyes toward her. That tear- 
drop ass sheathed in silk, that mind 
like a sewer running with black bile, 
that heart like a pound of red raw poi- 
soned hamburger. Those cute little pup- 
pies bounding along in front. 

The fevered temperature of her 
soiled flesh brightened everything. Even 
the air was shining. The shadows were 
black glares. 

"Fine," he said. "Almost finished." 

", . . only infinite slow minutes, slow 
thoughts like curls of smoke, only time, 
only a flicker of presence, only perfect 
music that does not exist like 
smoke . . . ." 

"So how was the Vanguard?" 

He chuckled. "Didn't you catch it on 
the radio?" 

A pause, "No, I was busy." 

Busy, uh-huh. Hips thrusting up 
from a rumpled sheet, sleek with 
sweat, mouth full of tongue, breasts roll- 
ing fatly, big ass flattening. 

"It was good for me," he said. 

A nervous giggle. 

"Very good," he said. "The- best." 

He examined his feelings. All in or- 
der, all under control . . . what there 
was of them, A few splinters of despair, 
a fragment of anger, some shards of 
love. Not enough to matter, not enough 
to impair judgment. 

"Are you okay? You sound funny." 

"I'm fine," he said, feeling a creepy, 
secretive tingle of delight. "Want to 
hear the Vanguard set? I taped it." 

"Sure . . . but aren't you sleepy? I 
can hear it tomorrow." 

"I'm fine." 

He switched on the recorder. The 
computer screen was blazing like a 
white sun, 

". . . the crackling of a black storm, 
the red thread of a fire on a distant 
ridge, the whole world irradiated by a 
mystic vibration, the quickened inches 
of the flesh becoming cool and easy, 
the White Nile of the calmed mind flow- 
ing everywhere . . . ." 

"Like it?" he asked. She had walked 
over to the window and was standing 
facing it, gazing out at the city. 

"it's . . . curious," she said. "I don't 
know if I like it, but it's effective." 

Was that a hint of entranced dullness 
in her voice? Or was it merely distrac- 
tion? Open those ears wide, baby, and 
let that ol' black magic take over. 

". . . just listen, just let it flow in, let 
it fill the empty spaces in your brain 
with muttering, cluttering bassy blun- 
ders and a crooked wire of brassy red 
snake fluid, let it cozy around and coil 
up inside your skull . . . ." 

The column just couldn't hold his in- 




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terest. Who the hell was going to read 
it, anyway? His place was with Rachel, 
helping her through the rough spots of 
the transition, the confusion, the unset- 
tled feelings. With difficulty, he got to 
his feet and walked over to Rachel. Put 
his hands on her hips. She tensed, 
then relaxed against him. Then she 
tensed again. He looked out over the 
top of her head at Manhattan. Only a 
few lights showing. The message grow- 
ing simpler and simpler. Dot, dot, dot. 
Stop. Dot, dot. Stop. 
Stop. 

"Can we talk, Wade?" 
"Listen to the music, baby." 
"No . . . really. We have to talk!" 
She tried to pull away from him, but 
he held her, his fingers hooked on her 
hipbones. 
"It'll keep 'til morning," he said. 
"I don't think so." She turned to face 
him, fixed him with her intricate green 
eyes. "I've been putting this off too 
long already." Her mouth opened, as if 
she were going to speak, but then she 
looked away. "I'm so sorry," she said 
after a considerable pause. 

He knew what was coming, and he 
didn't want to hear it. Couldn't she just 
wait? In a few minutes she'd begin to 
understand, to know what he knew. 
Chrisi, couldn't she wait? 

"Listen," he said. "Okay? Listen to 
the music and then we'll talk." 

"God, Wade! What is it with you and 
this dumb music?" 

She started to flounce off, but he 
caught her by the arm. 

"If you give it a chance, you'll see 
what I mean," he said. "But it takes a 
while. You have to give it time." 
"What are you talking about?" 
"The music . . . it's really something. 
It does something." 
"Oh, God, Wade! This is important!" 
She fought against his grip. 
"I know," he said, "I know it is. But 
just do this first. Do it for me." 

"All right, all right! If it'll make you hap- 
py." She heaved a sigh, made a visi- 
ble effort at focusing on the music, her 
head tipped to the side . . . but only for 
a couple of seconds. 

"I can't listen," she said. "There's too 
much on my mind." 
"You're not trying." 
"Oh, Wade," she said, her chin quiv- 
ering, a catch in her voice. "I've been 
trying, I really have. You don't know. 
Piease! Let's just sit down and . . . ." 
She let out another sigh. "Please. I 
need to talk with you." 

He had to calm her, to let his calm 
generate and flow inside her. He put a 
hand on the back of her neck, forced 
her head down on his shoulder. She strug- 
gled, but he kept up a firm pressure. 

96 OMNI 



"Let me go, damn it!" she said, her 
voice muffled. "Let me go!" Then, after 
a moment: "You're smothering me." 

He let her lift her head. 

"What's wrong with you, Wade?" 

There was confusion and fright in her 
face, and he wanted to soothe her, to 
take away all her anxieties. 

"Nothing's wrong," he said with the 
sedated piety of a priest. "I just want 
you to listen. Tomorrow morning . . . ." 

"I don't want to listen. Can't you un- 
derstand that? I don't. Want. To listen. 
Now let me go." 

"I'm doing ihis for you, baby." 

"For me? Are you nuts? Let me go!" 

"I can't, baby. I just can't." 

She tried to twist free again, but he 
refused to release her. 

"All right, all right! I was trying to 
avoid a scene, but if that's how you 
want it!" She tossed back her hair, 
glared at him defiantly. "I'm leav- 



6The light 
was streaming up from 

everything, 
whitening the air, whiting 

out hope, 

truth, beauty, sadness, joy, 

everything 

except the music. 9 



mg . . . . 

He couldn't let her say it and spoil 
the evening; he couldn't let her disrupt 
the healing process. Without anger, with- 
out bitterness, but rather with the pre- 
cision and control of someone trimming 
a hedge, he backhanded her, nailed 
her flush on the jaw with all his 
strength, snapping her head about. She 
went hard against the thick window 
glass, the back of her skull impacting 
with a sharp crack, and then she 
slumped to the floor, her head twisted 
at an improbable angle. 

Snip, snip. 

He stood waiting for grief and fear to 
flood in, but he felt only a wave of se- 
renity as palpable as a stream of cool 
water, as a cool golden passage on a 
distant horn, 

Snip. 

The shape of his life was perfected. 

Rachel's too. 

Lying there, pale lips parted, face 
rapt and slack, drained of lust and emo- 
tions, she was beautiful. A trickle of 
blood eeied'from her hairline, and 



Goodrick realized that the pattern it 
made echoed the alto line exactly, that 
the music was leaking from her, signal- 
ing the minimal continuance of her life. 
She wasn't dead; she had merely suf- 
fered a neccessary reduction. He 
sensed the edgy crackle of her 
thoughts, like the intermittent popping 
of a fire gone to embers. 

"It's okay, baby. It's okay." He put an 
arm under her back and lifted her, sup- 
porting her about the waist. Then he 
hauled her over to the sofa. He helped 
her to sit, and sat beside her, an arm 
about her shoulders. Her head lolled 
heavily against his, the softness of her 
breast pressed into his arm. He could 
hear the music coming from her, along 
with the electric wrack and tumble 
of her thoughts. They had never been 
closer than they were right now, he 
thought. 

He wanted to say something, to tell 
her how much he loved her, but found 
that he could no longer speak, his 
throat muscles slack and useless. 
Well, that was okay. 
Rachel knew-how he felt, anyway. 
But if he could speak, he'd tell her 
that he'd always known they could 
work things out, that though they'd had 
their problems, they were made for 
each other. . , . 

The light was growing incandescent, 
as if. having your life ultimately simpli- 
fied admitted you. to a dimension of blaz- 
ing whiteness. It was streaming up 
from everything, from the radio, the tel- 
evision, from Rachel's parted lips, 
from every surface, whitening the air, 
the night, whiting out hope, truth, beau- 
ty, sadness, joy, leaving room for noth- 
ing except the music, which was swel- 
ling in volume, stifling thought, becom- 
ing a kind of thirsting presence inside 
him. It was sort of too bad, he said to 
himself, that things had to be like this, 
that they couldn't have made it in the 
usual way, but then he guessed it was 
all for the best, that this way at least 
there was no chance of screwing any- 
thing up. 

Jesus, the goddamn light was killing 
his eyes! Might have known, he 
thought, there'd be some fly in the oint- 
ment, that perfection didn't measure up 
to its rep. 

He held onto Rachel tightly, whisper- 
ing endearments, saying, "Baby, it'll be 
okay in a minute, just lie back, Just 
take it easy," trying to reassure her, to 
help her through this part of things. He 
could tell the light was bothering her as 
well by the way she buried her face in 
the crook of his neck. 

If this shit kept up, he thought, he 
was going to have to buy them both 
some sunglasses. DO 



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